Janibek Alimkhanuly Meets Vincenzo Gualtieri In Unification Contest This Saturday Night In Texas
By Craig Daly: On Saturday night, IBF middleweight champion Vincenzo Gualtieri (21-0-1, 7 KOs) will take on powerful WBO champ Janibek Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9 KOs) in a two-belt unification fight that will be shown live on ESPN.
This is not the ideal fight for the Top Rank-promoted Janibek to become a superstar at 160, but with no interest from the bigger names in the weight class, he has to settle for facing the obscure IBF champion Gualtieri.
The idea is that Janibek will gain fame by collecting all 160 titles to become the undisputed champion, much like Terence Crawford, who accomplished this in 15 years.
Alimkhanuly-Gualtieri will take place at the Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas. The event will be shown on ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+ beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.
Janibek needs a good performance on Saturday night to help build his popularity because he lost fans when he struggled against British club fighter Denzel Bentley last November.
For Janibek to gain popularity in a hurry, he’ll need to take a big career risk by moving up to 168 so that he can get fights against Canelo Alvarez, David Benavidez, Caleb Plant & Demetrius Andrade.
Janibek might have to insist with his management to allow him to go up in weight, but there’s clearly the fastest path to him picking up bigger paydays if he can hang with the competition in the 168-lb division.
Bentley wore Janibek down with his pressure, and he looked exhausted in the second half. Janibek fought in the twelfth round to cement the victory by staggering Bentley, but still, it wasn’t a good performance from the Kazakhstan native.
In hindsight, Top Rank probably should have put together a rematch between Alimkhanuly & Bentley so that we could see whether there was any improvement in their fighter.
Rather than do that, Top Rank matched Alimkhanuly against Steven Butler in his last fight, and he blew him out in two rounds last May. The fight did nothing for Janibek because it was a step back from the Bentley fight.
Gualtieri recently captured the vacant IBF 160-lb title, beating Esquiva Falcao by a twelve round unanimous decision last summer in Germany.
It wasn’t a particularly entertaining fight to watch, as Gualtieri stayed on the move the entire fight, hitting & running to keep the hard-hitting Falco from landing his shots.
The strategy paid off with Gualtieri winning, but it’s questionable whether that same approach will work against the southpaw sharp-shooter Janibek on Saturday night. Janibek’s power & accuracy are going to be a problem for the German fighter Gualtieri if he elects to run all night long.
Two Middleweight belts at stake 🔥
Welcome to #JanibekGualtieri fight week! pic.twitter.com/6y1IjiXsK0
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) October 9, 2023