Zhanibek Alimkhanuly stops Vincenzo Gualtieri in six, unifies WBO and IBF middleweight titles
Zhanibek Alimkhanuly outclassed and outworked Vincenzo Gualtieri to a sixth-round mercy stoppage on Saturday at the Fort Bend Community Center in Rosenberg, Texas.
Alimkhanuly (15-0, 10 KOs), The Ring’s No. 2-rated middleweight, defended his WBO title and lifted the IBF belt that Gualtieri (21-1-1, 7 KOs) had only held since July. The 30-year-old native of Kazakhstan joins the elite ranks of unified champions but will need to continue searching for significant bouts to earn the respect he wants due to the unheralded Gualtieri’s non-effort.
The 30-year-old native of Germany was good enough to win the vacant IBF strap by outpointing Esquiva Falcao in his hometown, but he was no match for Alimkhanuly, who put him on the defensive move from the opening bell. Gualtieri was unorthodox, awkward and elusive but he wasn’t effective at all simply because he couldn’t get off. Alimkhanuly’s razor sharp jab and one-two combinations kept Gualtieri hand cuffed and gradually wore down the brave but grossly overmatched German.
A well-timed left uppercut rocked Gualtieri onto his heels in Round 5, and in the following round a series of one-two combinations drove the underdog into the ropes where a pair of thudding left hands prompted referee David Fields to call a halt to the beating at 1:25 of Round 6. Alimkhanuly had outlanded Gualtieri 82-22 at the time of the stoppage.
If you were wondering why Gualtieri wasn’t rated by The Ring coming into Saturday’s one-sided affair (streamed live on ESPN+), now you know.