ESPN weights: Alimkhanuly vs. Gualtieri – on Saturday night

By Will Arons - 10/13/2023 - Comments

Janibek Alimkhanuly & Vincenzo Gualtieri made weight on Friday for their middleweight unification fight this Saturday night at the Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas.

It’s important that Janibek looks good on Saturday because he was terrible in his fight last year against Denzel Bentley. After that performance of the 30-year Janibek, a lot of fans jumped ship, losing interest in his career.

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If Gualtieri had more power, he might be able to follow the blueprint created by Denzel Bentley, because he had Janibek looking mortal and nothing special.  Gualteiri can’t punch, and it’s unclear whether he has a  good enough chin to take the hard shots from the southpaw Janibek.

WBO champion Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9 KOs) weighed 159.3 lbs, and IBF belt holder Gualtieri (21-0, 7 KOs) came in at 159.5 lbs. The main portion of the card will be shown live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+ at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Lightweight Keyshawn Davis weighed in at 135, and Nahir Albright scaled in at 134.9 lbs. for their ten round chief support bout.

Weigh-in results:

Janibek Alimkhanuly 159.3 vs. Vincenzo Gualtieri 159.5
Keyshawn Davis 135 vs. Nahir Albright 134.9
Richard Torrez Jr. 233.1 vs. Tyrell Anthony Herndon 234.8
Guido Vianello 241.3 vs. Curtis Harper 275.5
Giovanni Marquez 141.3 vs. Donte Strayhorn 140.2
Duke Ragan 125.3 vs. Jose Perez 126.4
Kelvin Davis 142 vs. Narciso Carmona 142.6
Alan Garcia 137.8 vs. Nelson Hampton 137.3
Humberto Galindo 131.7 vs. Oscar Bravo 130.8
Jakhongir Zokirov 263.5 vs. Guillermo Del Rio 217.1

Alimkhanuly vs. Gualtieri: Who’s the best at 160?

“Typically, when you see two champions fighting in a unification fight, there’s been a big build-up, there’s been a lot of public demand, and it’s time to find out who’s the best in the weight class. This one goes against all of those things that I mention,” said Dan Rafael to BET US about Saturday’s middleweight unification fight between Janibek Alimkhanuly & Vincenzo Gualtieri.

“There’s been zero demand. There’s been no public demand or build-up. Gualtieri is completely unknown. He’s not even well known in Germany, where his title fight in July [against Esquiva Falcao for the vacant IBF middleweight belt] wasn’t even televised in that country.

“It was shown on the promoter’s YouTube channel, which you could watch around the world, but you got to be a real degenerate like myself to actually pay attention, which I did.

“At least in Janibek’s case, he may not have a big fan base or be hugely popular or whatever, but at least with his connections with Top Rank, he has been on the ESPN show several times.

“He’s been on pay-per-view undercards for his fights. So, he’s more known, and he’s also a good fighter. He’s an Olympian [2020], he’s a big puncher, and he’s made a couple of title defenses [Steven Butler & Denzel Bentley] and looked good in his last [fight].

“He didn’t look good against Denzel Bentley, which was a surprise because everyone thought he was going to wipe him out, and it ended up going the distance, and he lost some rounds. Beyond that, he’s dominated against lesser opponents.

The middleweight division barren of big-names

“The deal here is the following. There’s nothing going on in the middleweight division. It’s a decrepit division. As I like to say, bereft of talent at the moment. I shouldn’t say talent.

“Of big names because you’ve had a lot of big names that have left. Canelo left and went to super middleweight. Danny Jacobs went up. GGG is basically in retirement. Demetrius Andrade moved up in weight. Jaime Munguia moved up in weight. So there have been some good fighters.

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“So that left a void. So, Janibek gets a belt. Guilteri fights Falcao, the mandatory, who was supposed to fight GGG, but Golovkin decides he’s not doing that. He gave up the belt and, again, is basically in retirement. So, Falcao went to Germany and fought him [Gualtieri] for the vacant title.

“He did drop Falcao twice in a very foul-filled kind of and not a very entertaining kind of fight. Neither guy looked very good, even though sometimes neither guy looked good. One guy fought poorly, and the other guy fought a little less poorly.

“He [Gualtieri] wins the belt, so Janibek has nothing going on, and there’s no big fight for him, and the new champ had nothing going on. It’s kind of like, ‘Let’s make chicken salad from, you know what.’

“I like Janibek’s punching power. I’m putting the Denzel Bentley fight out of my mind for a moment. I saw nothing from Gualiteri in the world title fight that makes me think that he’s going to have anything for Janibek. I was not impressed at all. He has fought nobody other than Falcao, and even that is not a huge win,” said Rafael.

Janibek looking good

“So, he’s never been stopped, but he’s never faced anybody,” Rafael continued. “I’m going with Janibek just based on what I’ve seen from Janibek. When he comes right, he’s a devasting puncher. We’ve seen him lay guys out cold. I’m kind of taking a flyer out on it I guess a little bit. I’m taking Janibek by the knockout.

“There’s just nothing in the division for him [Gualtieri], and I believe this. If his promoters thought he was the goods, they’re not going to sacrifice him in the first defense and come over. They’re getting a good payday to come over here [to Rosenberg, Texas].

“My understanding is he’s getting $750,000, but if they really thought they had something, you could maybe get that one or two defenses against softer opponents at home. But they’re going after the biggest fights they can make. That’s not to say it’s a huge fight, but for him [Gualtieri] it is, obviously.

“There’s nothing in his background that says he’s going to hang with Janibek at all. Maybe he’ll surprise us, and if he does, good for him. He still won the fight,” said Rafael about Janibek’s close win over Denzel Bentley last year. “Ask Steven Butler, who is still lying dead on the canvas. Ask Danny Dignum, who was lying out cold on the canvas.

“Yes, he looked poor against Bentley, but you don’t always have a perfect night. I dare say that our good pals Dignum and Butler might disagree,” said Rafael.

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