Top Rank needs to start making a move to match WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9 KOs) against better opposition following his second round knockout win over Steven Butler (32-4-1, 26 KOs) last Saturday night at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California.
Janibek is 30, and he’s going to miss out on taking advantage of his best years as a pro if he’s not stepped up soon against quality opposition.
Paulie Malignaggi believes that Janibek was fed the subpar opponent intentionally by Top Rank to make him look better than he actually is.
Janibek had looked poor in his previous fight against Denzel Bentley and barely escaped with a win in that fight after gassing out and taking a lot of punishment.
After Janibek’s win over Butler last Saturday, he called out Canelo Alvarez and Jermall Charlo. Obviously, Janibek’s chances of getting a fight against either fighter are zero.
It might have been better for Janibek to call out these fighters: Liam Smith, Chris Eubank Jr, Carlos Adames, Felix Cash, and Esquivia Falcao.
Butler was a subpar opponent
“For Janibek and Butler, everyone is high on their praise of Janibek with his big knockout of Butler. Let’s not forget that Top Rank are masters at knowing how to promote and manipulate a situation to give a vision of a fighter being better than he is and whatnot,” said Malignaggi to Paulie TV, reacting to Janibek Alimkhanuly’s second round knockout win over Steven Butler last Saturday night in Stockton, California.
“I’m not saying Janibek is a bad fighter, but what I’m saying is he’s had some very subpar performances. What they did with getting an opponent like Butler, was they got him a subpar opponent.
“If you look at Butler’s record, the guy is very, very average. It’s sort of a step down in opposition [from Janibek’s last opponent Denzel Bentley]. Why do you do this for Janibek? Because Janibek has been looking subpar.
“You get him a step down in opposition, hoping he looks like a killer, and so this way, you can market him the right way and get him into a big fight before he winds up getting himself beat by somebody he shouldn’t get beat by.
“I personally thought Janibek had a lot of potential in his career. I don’t know if he’s worn out. I don’t know. It’s not my business, but I think Janibek has regressed. I’m not going to look at a fight against a very subpar opponent like that [Butler] and fall for the decoy where it’s like, ‘Oh, he got that big knockout.’
“This guy Butler was very, very average. He was brought in to make Janibek look good, and Janibek looked good. So now you got what you wanted, and everyone is singing Janibek’s praise, and now they’re [Top Rank] is going to want to make the biggest fight possible,” said Malignaggi.
Janibek ready for top opposition
“They’re not going to want to waste any more time with Janibek because now you got to strike while the iron is hot,” Paulie said. “Maybe you make a Munguia fight or something. I don’t know.
“I don’t know what options Top Rank has over there in that weight class. Maybe you work with another promoter and another network to merge together and make a fight for Janibek while the iron is hot.
As far as Butler is concerned, he was circling the ring and moving. It wasn’t any rhyme or reason to what he was doing as a matter of fact. When he finally closed the gap and got knocked down by that uppercut, which was the beginning of the end.
“He was circling the wrong way, and then as he’s circling the wrong way, he steps in with a jab as he was circling the wrong way. You’re already going into the left hand of the southpaw, which is like the biggest mistake you don’t make.
“Don’t get me wrong. You can go both ways against a southpaw. That rule about going away from the lead hand or stepping on the outside of the lead foot is not that cut & dry. If you’re going to go the wrong way against a southpaw, you got to make sure you’re out of range,” said Paulie.
Butler made bush league mistake
“When I used to fight southpaws, I used to make sure I was out of range when I used to move to my right, and then when I started getting closer in range,” said Malignaggi. “I started moving over to my left. That way, whenever I was in punching range, I was going in the right direction.
“Butler was just circling. First of all, he was circling the wrong way in that moment, but I don’t think he had a rhyme or reason why h was circling the wrong way. He was just trying to move, step in and move.
“You could see that Janibek was just calmly stalking. Calmly stalking. He didn’t even have to stalk him because Butler did the work for him. As he’s [Butler] going the wrong way, as he’s moving to his right, he decided to step in.
“Janibek is already setting you up as you’re going towards his power hand. Now you step in as you’re going towards his power hand. All he’s got to do is throw the uppercut, and that’s what ended up happening.
“He countered with the uppercut. Don’t get me wrong. You still got to give Janibek credit for timing the shot and for seeing it, seeing the error, and making Butler pay for it.
“Come on, bro. That was bush league. That mistake was bush league, and, of course, that was the beginning of the end because the uppercut landed on the money and Butler didn’t survive the ensuing onslaught, and the fight ended up getting stopped by Jack Reiss after a couple of more knockdowns,” said Malignaggi.
Top Rank matching Janibek well
“Again, it’s exciting to talk about Janibek and all that stuff, but I’m not so quick to sing his praises,” said Paulie. “I’m not saying that I’m criticizing him, but I’m not so quick to sing his praises after his subpar performances.
“I just think this was a genius move by Top Rank to bring in a subpar opponent so that he looks the goods, so you can now make him more valuable for another fight.
“We’ll see what happens in the future of Janibek. He’s certainly someone that people have been curious about,” said Malignaggi.