New Faces: Janibek Alimkhanuly
Hometown: Almaty, Kazakhstan
Weight class: Middleweight
Height: 5-foot-11½″ (182 cm)
Amateur record: 300-8
Turned pro: 2016
Pro record: 5-0 (2 Knockouts)
Trainer: Buddy McGirt
Manager: Egis Klimas
Promoter: Top Rank Inc.
Best night of pro career and why: Alimkhanuly is most pleased with his last fight, a fifth-round stoppage over Steven Martinez.
“The fight was significantly different than the two previous matches [I have had in America],” Alimkhanuly told The Ring through his manager Egis Klimas. “The previous two matches were about getting used to boxing in the U.S. The last one, against Martinez, was unique in terms of the coach and me fully understanding each other in the process of training. I could show what I planned in terms of tactical preparation, and it was my first performance on a big show.”
Worst night of pro career and why: Top Rank’s Brad Goodman hasn’t been overly impressed with Alimkhanuly’s three fights under his company’s banner so far.
“I don’t think he’s showed his true potential yet,” said the highly regarded matchmaker. “Everybody is bragging on how good he is and what he’s done in the World Series of Boxing and his amateur credentials, but in the three fights that he’s had [with Top Rank] he’s had very, very ordinary performances.”
Next Fight: The 25-year-old Kazahk will appear on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Anthony Crolla undercard against seasoned Christian Olivas at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday.
Olivas (16-4, 13 KOs) turned professional in January 2015 and won his first eight fights before tasting defeat for the first time. The Mexican-born San Ysidro resident is currently on a two-fight losing streak, dropping decisions to prospects Bilal Akkawy (UD 8) and Tyler Howard (SD 8). The 27-year-old has never been stopped and figures to take Alimkhanuly rounds.
“(Last time) he was fighting a guy who’s really a 154-pounder and was off for a year,” Goodman said of the Martinez victory. “His next fight is a legitimate 160-pounder in Christian Olivas so we’ll be able to tell a little bit more.”
Top Rank vice President Carl Moretti is eagerly looking forward to Alimkhanuly’s upcoming fight: “A solid victory over Olivas will further prove that Janibek is fast becoming a contender in the 160 and 168-pound divisions.”
Why he’s a prospect: Alimkhanuly entered the professional code with a vast amateur pedigree. He is a nine-time Kazahkstan national champion, he won the Asian championships twice and is a 2013 World Championship gold medalist. He appeared at the 2016 Olympics but lost at the quarter-final stage.
During his time in the unpaid ranks he bested a host of top fighters, including junior middleweight prospect Anthony Fowler, middleweight contender Jason Quigley (see video below) and amateur standout Bogdan Juratoni.
Alimkhanuly also won both of his fights in the semi-professional World Series of Boxing for Astana Arlans.
Goodman sees potential but isn’t sure at this point what his fighter’s ceiling is, “I think he’s very advanced for somebody who only has five fights,” he said. “He doesn’t have any problem going 8 rounds. I think maybe the better the opposition, the better he’s gonna fight.
“You can see the guys he’s fighting; they have 20-25 fights. He’s fighting decent type opponents right now. It remains to be seen (how Alimkhanuly will perform) once he’s fighting guys who believe they can win.”
Why he’s a suspect: After just five fights, no noteworthy flaws are apparent. However, the well-rounded amateur star isn’t focused on just one area.
“I think the credo ‘not enough’ is the main driver for the fighter who wants to be a real champion,” Alimkhanuly said. “Because by saying ‘not enough’ to myself, I can consistently look for improvement. That’s why I’ve got to improve generally. I am in the process of fully preparing, not only for the upcoming fights, but for championship fights in the future.”
Alimkhanuly made his professional debut in October 2016 but had long spells of inactivity between his debut and second fight, and again between his second and third.
“I was fighting in amateur boxing and didn’t come to the decision to fight at the professional level,” he said of his slow transition. “Also, it was the time when I was changing my weight category from 75 kilograms to 81 kilograms to be champion of Kazakhstan and it happened.
“When I heard that professional matches were expected to happen in Astana, I decided to try one. I came to my final decision to perform in professional level after my first fight.”
After reaching that conclusion he won another national amateur title before signing with Top Rank and basing himself in the U.S., which has seen his activity pick up.
In some of his performances, instead of looking to take his opponent out, he has looked to enjoy the occasion a little too much, playing to the crowd. That is something that his handlers and team will likely look to iron out of his game.
Storylines: Alimkhanuly was born in Zhilandy, close to the Kazakhstan capital of Astana. He first discovered his passion for boxing when he was seven years old.
“The elder generation of Kazakh boxers like Bekzat Sattarkhanov and Yermakhan Ibraimov became Olympic champions in Sydney (2000),” he explained. “I still remember how I was so happy watching them on TV. I guess my interest in boxing started from that time. I asked my father to bring me to a boxing club. Since those days, me and boxing became friends.”
Alimkhanuly’s boxing hero is Muhammad Ali: “I think many boxers would say the same name, he is a legendary boxer of all time.”
The talented young southpaw is married, has three children, and outside of boxing he enjoys reading and hunting.
Feb. 2 – Steven Martinez – TKO 5
Nov. 3 – Vaughn Alexander – SD 8
Sept. 28 – Carlos Galvan – UD 6
Sept. 9 – Gilberto Pereira dos Santos – UD 6
Oct. 29 – Milton Nunez – TKO 1
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