Janibek Alimkhanuly stays busy vs. Denzel Bently while lobbying for meaningful middleweight bouts
Ring-rated middleweight Janibek Alimkhanuly demolished Danny Dignum in two brutal rounds for the vacant WBO interim title May.
The heavy-handed southpaw had to wait until August before the WBO upgraded him to full champion in the wake of Demetrius Andrade deciding to fight at super middleweight, although the American has yet to fight in the new weight class due to a shoulder injury.
Alimkhanuly (12-0, 8 KOs), a 29-year-old native of Kazakhstan who lives and trains in Southern California, will face once-beaten Denzel Bentley in his first title defense at the Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas on Saturday.
According to Alimkhanuly, the reason Bentley was selected was simple.
“He is the only boxer who agreed to fight me and be knocked out,” Alimkhanuly told The Ring. “I’m hungry. I’m at my peak. He will be knocked out and that knockout will be the knockout of the year, inshallah, he brings it.”
He refutes any suggestion that he is the next big thing to come out of Kazakhstan.
“I’m not next! I am already a champion,” he said. “Everyone avoids the fight; the champions don’t want to fight me. I knocked out two former champions. I’m a middleweight nightmare and I have a lot of fans.”
So far, Alimkhanuly, The Ring’s No. 5-rated middleweight, has been unable to entice the big names at middleweight including Andrade (No. 3) and Jaime Munguia (No. 4) into a meeting and has a message for the division.
“Guys! I don’t want to say ‘Champions’ anymore! Champions must fight champions,” he said. “Guys, let’s fight.”
Alimkhanuly’s manager, Egis Klimas, who lists Ring/unified heavyweight champ Oleksandr Usyk and three-division titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko among his clients, acknowledges the difficultly that he and Top Rank have been met with.
“No ranked fighters or champions want to take a risk with this young, aggressive and skillful boxer,” said Klimas. “Everyone understood to fight Janibek is big risk to lose.
“But hopefully now he is champion it will be easier to find him challengers or to get other champions – which I doubt it will happen – to unify titles. Look what happened with Lomachenko, he had to go up two weight classes (from featherweight to lightweight) to get unification fights.”
Bentley (17-1-1, 14 KOs) turned professional in 2017. The Londoner won his first 13 outings before having to settle for a draw against Mark Heffron (D 10). In a direct rematch, Bentley impressively stopped Heffron (RTD 4) to claim the vacant British title. However, in his next fight he lost his unbeaten record to Commonwealth titlist Felix Cash (TKO 3). The 27-year-old has bounced back well to regain his old British title by narrowly edging past Linus Udofia (SD 12). He has since made one successful defense.
Alimkhanuly-Bentley, and undercard action will stream live on ESPN+ starting at 10:00 p.m. ET/ 7:00 p.m. PT.
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