WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9 KOs) claimed a second round knockout over Canada’s Steven Butler (32-4-1, 26 KOs) in their bout this past weekend. Butler was no match for Alimkhanuly as he was knocked down three times before referee Jack Reiss waved the fight off. With this victory, Alimkhanuly now has two successful defenses of his title following his promotion from interim champion.
Attention now shifts towards potential opponents for his next fight. Here are three realistic options for Alimkhanuly, keeping the WBO rankings in mind and the likelihood of a cross-promotional event:
Ranked second in the WBO’s rankings, Smith (33-3-1, 20 KOs) could be a potential opponent should he win his rematch against Chris Eubank Jr on July 1. Smith is promoted by BOXXER and fights on Sky Sports, a feasible fight to make for Alimkhanuly. Top Rank, Alimkhanuly’s promoters, have collaborated with BOXXER and their fights air on Sky Sports in the UK. Once Alimkhanuly is ready for his next bout, Smith could prove to be a realistic option.
Winner of Esquiva Falcao-Vincenzo Gualtieri
Falcao (30-0, 20 KOs) takes on Gualtieri (20-0-1, 7 KOs) on July 1 with the vacant IBF Middleweight title at stake. Although Top Rank lost the purse bid for the bout, a unification between the winner of this fight and Alimkhanuly could be possible. Falcao has been with Top Rank since he began his professional career. Should he win, Top Rank could very easily promote a middleweight unification later this year. In the case of Gualtieri winning, there is the option of collaborating with Agon Sports (Gualtieri’s promoters).
Munguia (41-0, 33 KOs) faces Sergiy Derevyanchenko (14-4, 10 KOs) on June 10 in a super middleweight contest. Although he turned down a fight with Alimkhanuly in the past, the matchup could be revisited later this year. Munguia is ranked third by the WBO who could reorder the bout once again. Should Munguia emerge victorious against Derevyanchenko, he may come back down to middleweight to pursue title fights. If that is the case, fighting Alimkhanuly would be feasible given Munguia’s ranking with the WBO.
Hear Dan Rafael and T.J. Rives discussing Janibek’s potential future opponents on the latest “Fight Freaks Unite” Recap by clicking below,