WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuky gives #6 Steven Butler credit for taking the fight against him this Saturday, May 13th, at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California.
The Janibek vs. Butler card will be shown live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+ at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.
In the co-feature, Jason Moloney (25-2, 19 KOs) fights Vincent Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KOs) for the vacant WBO bantamweight world title in a toss-up contest.
The 30-year-old Janibek (13-0, 8 KOs) has been avoided by the plague in the last couple of years, swerved by Demetrius Andrade and Jaime Munguia.
With Janibek’s hands tied, unable to get the top names at 160 to fight him, the heavy-handed 2016 Olympian from Kazakhstan has to make do, defending against Butler (32-3-1, 26 KOs) on Saturday.
Not surprisingly, Janibek is a little bitter about being avoided because his career would be on another level right now if he could have already gotten fights against Andrade, Munguia, Jermall Charlo, Gennadiy Golovkin, and Chris Eubank Jr.
“I give all the credit to Steven Butler for accepting this fight. In a division full of ducks, Butler is a true warrior. I know he will come to fight, and we will give the fans a great show.”
“Demetrius Andrade gave up his title to avoid fighting me. He ran eight pounds up the scale. He is the ultimate duck. Jaime Munguia turned down a shot at the title to fight weaker opposition. They are the two ducks, but I am the champion now.”
“I called out the division’s other champions, and they didn’t answer. Butler answered the call. I am fighting Saturday to prove a point. I will knock out Butler in devastating fashion.”
Butler was knocked out in five rounds by former WBA middleweight champion Ryota Murata and journeyman Jose de Jesus Macias in 2019. There’s no shame in Butler getting stopped by Murata, as he’s a hard-hitting fighter and 2012 Olympic gold medalist, but it’s troubling that he was knocked out by Macias (28-11-4, 14 KOs).
Top Rank is going to have to keep Janibek really busy, fighting four to six times a year if they want to turn him into a star because he’s not going to take his career to the next level by fighting just twice a year against lackluster opposition.
In Janibek’s last fight, he was forced to battle hard to defeat a motivated Denzel Bentley by a twelve round unanimous decision last November. The scores were 116-112, 116-112, and 118-110.
“The middleweight division runs through me now. I am here to stay. While the other champions continue not to fight, I will challenge the best and knock out everyone in my path,” said Janibek.