WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9 KOs) and newly crowned unbeaten IBF champ Vincenzo Gualtieri (21-0-1, 7 KOs) will meet on October 14th for a 160-lb unification clash on ESPN in Rosenberg, Texas.
The little-known 30-year-old German fighter Vincenzo Gualtieri captured the vacant IBF middleweight title with a twelve round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten 2012 Olympic silver medalist Esquiva Falcao (30-1, 20 KOs) last month on July 1st in Germany. Gualtieri knocked Falcao down in rounds two and ten.
Mike Coppinger is reporting the news of the Janibek vs. Gualtieri fight. There’s no word yet about the undercard.
The Kazakhstan native Janibek, 30, is coming off a second round knockout of Steven Butler last May in Stockton, California. That was a much easier fight for the 2016 Olympian Alimkhanuly than his previous contest against Denzel Bentley in November of last year.
Bentley soaked up a lot of punishment but gave Janibek huge problems by landing many big shots of his own and taking advantage of his stamina issue. Janibek looked exhausted by the fifth round, sweating profusely and struggling with the pressure from the British fighter.
Gualtieri was born in Wuppertal, Germany, and the only recognizable name on his eight-year pro resume is Falcao. The test of the guys Gualtieri has fought has been obscure second-tier opposition that most boxing fans have never seen or heard of.
The real question is how on earth did Gualtieri get a chance to fight for the vacant IBF 160-lb title against Falcao rather than one of the highly-ranked contenders?
Assuming the southpaw Janibek doesn’t gas out, he should beat Gualtieri to become the unified IBF & WBO middleweight champion.
The 160-lb division has become one of the weakest in boxing, with Canelo Alvarez & Demetrius Andrade moving up to 160. Gennadiy Golovkin & Jermall Charlo have been inactive, and no one with star appeal carries the division on their shoulders.
Janibek would be better off moving up to 168 to go after the bigger names like Canelo, David Benavidez, Caleb Plant, Andrade, and future star David Morrell Jr.
Staying at 160 is a dead end for Janibek, and he’ll languish there without getting the opportunity to make good money. With that said the problems that Janibek had against Bentley are worrying because this guy was blown out by Felix Cash.
If Janibek is struggling against the likes of Bentley, he’d be over his head facing killers like Canelo, Benavidez, Morrell, Plant, Diego Pacheco & Andrade.
For fighters that lack the talent to compete with the best at 147, 154 & 168, the middleweight division is the ideal spot to be if they want to be a major player and capture a title.