Sunday, June 04, 2023  |



Janibek Alimkhanuly: Canelo is easy work for me

Janibek Alimkhanuly celebrates after stopping Danny Dignum for the WBO interim middleweight title at Resorts World Las Vegas on May 21, 2022 in Las Vegas. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images
Fighters Network

Coming from of Kazakhstan, Janibek Alimkhanuly’s roots in boxing are deep and with fighters like Gennadiy Golovin and Sergei Lipinets coming from that nation, and the unbeaten WBO middleweight titleholder feels he is next. Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8 KOs) faces Steven Butler on Saturday in the main event of a Top Rank show streamed live on ESPN+.

In his last fight, Alimkhanuly defeated Denzel Bentley via unanimous decision. Alimkhanuly, who is ranked third by Ring Magazine, is aware of how significant it is to hold a major world title and is grateful for that, even though he wants more.

“There are many boxers in the world who want to become world champion,” he told The Ring. “Everyone works hard and trains hard but not everyone manages to become a champion. I am glad that I am one of those who became a champion. Being a champion is really cool.”

Alimkhanuly also believes that the fight with Bentley only benefited him by going 12 rounds. In a sport where pocketing rounds for experience is a key to success, “Qazaq Style” knows how valuable the fight was.

“Defending the title is a double pleasure,” he said. “Last fight I fought 12 rounds. I’m glad I fought 12 rounds. In every fight, as an athlete, I gain experience.”

While that experience was valuable, Alimkhanuly isn’t happy with his performance. 

“To be honest, the last fight changed me,” Alimkhanuly says. “Now I am a different boxer. I already feel it. We have changed the training process. I am currently working very educated conditioning trainers. I had five sparring partners in this camp. Twice a week we work 10 rounds in the mitts. I’m already different.”

Denzel Bentley (L) and Janibek Alimkhanuly (R) exchange punches during their WBO middleweight title bout at The Palms in Las Vegas. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Janibek Alimkhanuly: “I need all four belts in my division”

Butler (32-3-1, 26 KOs), nicknamed “Bang Bang,” hits hard and has shared the ring with world-class fighters, including former WBA titleholder Ryota Murata. After losing back-to-back fights in 2019 and 2021, Butler clawed his way to title contention with four wins, including two knockouts. Alimkhanuly doesn’t believe Butler is the caliber of fighter to challenge him and laments the boxers that avoid him. 

“To be honest, he’s not on my level,” Alimkhanuly said of Butler. “Yes, he has a good record. He’s beat worthy boxers. But I’m not like everyone else. I am different. My style is different. I will knock him out, inshallah. I always wanted to fight champions. I always wanted to fight boxing stars. But unfortunately, none of them agree to fight.”

Alimkhanuly has stated in the past that he will not fight Golovkin, his fellow countryman. But at 41 years of age, Golovkin is on his way out. Alimkhanuly wants to become undisputed and wants the legacy fights. He named Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) as a big fight for him.

“I need all four belts in my division. It is my goal. Of course, I would love to fight Charlo. And I want this fight. I need big names. Big names don’t mean big money to me. I need to fight a champion because that’s the only way you can become a very popular boxer. I’m here to be popular like Muhamed Ali!”

As the reader can imagine, frustration has built up as Alimkhanuly has been teased fights with Jaime Munguia and Liam Smith. But with the belt, Alimkhanuly says those fights are lost opportunities on Munguia and Smith’s parts.

“They are already in the past. I don’t want to look back. They had the opportunity to fight me. Munguia? Who is he? He is not a champion. I only want to fight champions.”

Alimkhanuly says he’s eyeing the super middleweight division as well. 

“If I don’t get champions next year, of course I’ll box at 168 pounds. Canelo is easy work for me. Not only Canelo, I can easily beat Bivol. I know myself. The time will come and you will see for yourself.”

So why tune in? Why watch a champion who stands on the shoulders of a giant like GGG? Alimkhanuly promises a show. He promises the best thing a boxer can offer: a knockout.

“It will be hot in May! In May, my fans will witness the knockout of the year, inshallah!”