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Janibek Alimkhanuly-Vincenzo Gualtieri WBO/IBF middleweight title unification set for Oct. 14

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

Janibek Alimkhanuly, The Ring’s No. 2-rated middleweight and WBO titleholder, will square off against IBF beltholder Vincenzo Gualtieri on October 14, Top Rank announced on Friday. The 12-round bout will take place at the Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas, a suburb of Houston.

In the co-feature, 2020 Olympic Silver medalist and unbeaten lightweight prospect Keyshawn Davis will face Philadelphia’s Nahir Albright in a 10-round bout.

Both fights will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (10:30 p.m. ET/ 7:30 p.m. PT).

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Janibek is the best middleweight in the world,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He has the chance to prove that once again with a victory over a tough champion in Vincenzo Gualtieri. I’m also pleased to see the future of the lightweight division, Keyshawn Davis, take the biggest step up to date against Nahir Albright. Top Rank is thrilled to be hosting the first boxing event at (the) Fort Bend Epicenter (which opened last week), where fans near the Houston area will be in for a real treat.”

Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9 knockouts), who is originally from Zhilandy, Kazakhstan and now lives and trains in the Los Angeles area, made the second successful defense of the WBO title in his last bout on May 13, dropping Steven Butler three times before winning by knockout in the second round. In his previous fight on November 12, Alimkhanuly defeated Denzel Bentley by unanimous decision.

The 30-year-old is currently ranked No. 2 by The Ring at 160 pounds. A win over Gualtieri will make Alimkhanuly a unified world titleholder, who will set his sights to win the other two world title belts.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to fight a fellow world champion,” said Alimkhanuly, who is managed by Egis Klimas. “This fight gets me one step closer to becoming the undisputed middleweight champion, and I thank Vincenzo Gualtieri for putting his belt on the line. He is doing what the other champions have refused to do. I will, however, return home to Kazakhstan as a unified champion.”

Gualtieri (21-0-1, 7 KOs), who resides in Wuppertal, Germany, won the vacant IBF world title in his last fight on July 1, dropping Esquiva Falcao twice en route to a unanimous decision victory. Ironically, Falcao is promoted by Top Rank.

Photo from Gualtieri’s Facebook

In his previous fight on September 10 of last year, Gualtieri, also 30, defeated Vincenzo Bevilacqua by decision. Despite being the underdog going into the Alimkhanuly fight, Gualtieri is confident he can pull off the upset victory.

“Janibek is an outstanding boxer who has done it all as an amateur and a professional, just like Esquiva Falcao,” said Gualtieri, who is promoted by AGON Sports and Events. “Janibek is a southpaw, just like Esquiva Falcao. Janibek was the favorite, just like Esquiva Falcao. In the end, Janibek, like Falcao, will lose because I have the better team and the will of a champion. Only that will decide who wins and who loses, just as it did against Falcao.”

Davis (9-0, 6 KOs), who resides in Norfolk, Virginia, last fought on July 22, dropping Francesco Patera once en route to a one-sided decision victory. The win over Patera came over three months after Davis dropped former world title challenger Anthony Yigit before winning by knockout in the ninth round.

The 24-year-old also has a win over former world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos. His older brother, junior lightweight prospect Kelvin Davis, will also fight on the October 21 card in Rosenberg.

Albright (16-2, 7 KOs) is coming off a majority decision victory over Karlos Balderas on July 28. The 27-year-old has won his last two bouts since losing by unanimous decision to Jamaine Ortiz on February 18 of last year.


Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]