Is WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly really a ‘Boogeyman’ and what does his future look like?
It was supposed to be an actual coming out party for WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly (13-0) when he stepped into the ring with Denzel Bentley (17-2-1) at The Palms in Las Vegas, NV. When fans and media looked at this matchup, all of the opinions seemed to be leaning towards an Alimkhanuly knockout which would make its spin around all of the social media platforms. Once the bell rang to start the first round, we would get everything except what was predicted throughout the fight week.
The fight lacked the sizzle we all expected, but Alimkhanuly did display the skills everyone knows he has, but the unexpected part of Saturday night was how well Bentley would fair against him. In the early rounds, Bentley seemed like he was caught up in the bright lights of being the main event on an ESPN+ card. Alimkhanuly controlled the early rounds, landed the bigger shots, and it seemed as if the end was near. Bentley finally woke up in the middle rounds and after weathering the storm, started to put combinations together and even stunned Alimkhanuly in a few of those exchanges. Not that he was hurt, but Bentley certainly got Alimkhanuly’s attention and made him think twice about some of those exchanges.
Towards the end of the fight, Bentley put it all on the line, but it wasn’t enough to get the victory. The fight went to the scorecards, and although most media had the fight a little closer, the judges had it wide and unanimous for Alimkhanuly (116-112 2x and 118-110). After the fight, Alimkhanuly had this to say “It’s boxing. Anything can happen in the ring. He came prepared. I respect my opponent because he was prepared. He was 100 percent, but I am a champion, and I fought all 12 rounds as a champion. I am ready for any champion, for unifications. I am ready. Let’s fight.”
After the fight: What does the future hold for Janibek Alimkhanuly and is he really the ‘Boogeyman’?
Before the matchup and during the fight, the commentators for ESPN kept referring to Alimkhanuly as the ‘Boogeyman’ of the division and that no one wanted to fight him. The middleweight division isn’t flooded with talent, so the pool of big names is extremely limited to the other champions. His fellow countryman Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin has two of the belts, but he is currently lined up to fight his WBA mandatory early next year. Then comes the super-talented WBC champion Jermall Charlo who has been inactive since June of last year and is with Premier Boxing Champions. The problem is that the PBC normally doesn’t do business with Top Rank, so a fight between Alimkhanuly and Charlo is highly unlikely. The only other name is Jaime Munguia, with Golden Boy Promotions and the number one contender for the WBO title. That is a makeable fight, but many questions surround whether or not Munguia will ever fight some of the more prominent names in the sport.
Alimkhanuly showed that he has skills but can be in some interesting fights when pushed to the limit, as Bentley showed on Saturday night. His win over Bentley may bring out the contenders who weren’t so motivated to face him before this fight. Will we see Alimkhanuly in a big fight next year? Let’s certainly hope so, as continuing to fight the Bentleys in the world won’t get him to the next level.