Janibek Alimkhanuly ordered by WBO to defend against Liam Smith

By Jeff Sorby - 02/23/2023 - Comments

Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith is being given the option of a world title shot against WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly after winning just one fight in the 160-lb division.

On Wednesday, the WBO ordered 160-lb champion Janibek Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8 KOs) and #1 Liam Smith (33-3-1, 20 KOs) to begin negotiations, giving them 20 days until March 14th to put together a deal before a purse bid was ordered.

Typically, this would be a fight that Liam would grab with both hands, as he’s been trying to get another title shot with no luck for the last five years since losing to Jaime Munguia in a bid to capture the WBO 154-lb belt.

With Smith, 34, looking forward to a well-paying rematch against Chris Eubank Jr in May or June, he doesn’t have the time for a title shot against WBO 160-lb champion Janibek.

Eubank Jr has already activated his rematch clause in the contract for his recent fight against Smith last month on January 21st. That effectively ties Smith’s hands.

Janibek vs. Liam Smith would be an exciting fight for the fans. Unlike Eubank Jr, Janibek isn’t weight drained at 160, and he won’t do something foolish like backing into a corner and letting Smith unload on him with everything but the kitchen sink.

If Smith were to beat Janibek, he’d have to do it in the center of the ring, and he’d be facing an active fighter in the prime of his career.

Eubank Jr has thrown his career away by fighting rarely and only against domestic-level opposition since losing to George Groves in 2018.

For that reason, it wasn’t unexpected that Eubank Jr was stopped in four rounds by Liam last January. Whatever fighter Eubank Jr once was, he’s not that guy anymore due to age, weak opposition, and inactivity. Moreover, Eubank Jr was always a flawed fighter from the jump and got away with his lack of skills due to his hand speed and weak opposition.

If Smith beats Eubank Jr in the rematch, he’ll likely have a chance to fight Gennadiy Golovkin, Conor Benn, or Billy Joe Saunders. Those fights will pay better than a title shot against Janibek.

Golovkin holds the WBA middleweight title, but he hasn’t said whether he’d be interested in facing Smith. We could hear something if Smith defeats Eubank Jr a second time.

The World Boxing Organization will work down their top 10 ranking until they find a contender willing to challenge Janibek. You got to feel a little bad for Janibek because he’s been avoided by the top guys at 160, starting with the former WBO champion Demetrius Andrade, who vacated rather than fight him.