Last night, in a fight that’ll make your grandma’s sparring sessions look tough, Janibek Alimkhanuly, WBO middleweight champion, turned the boxing ring into his personal playground. He danced – excuse me, fought – circles around what seemed like a cardboard cutout of Vincenzo Gualtieri, securing a technical knockout victory in the sixth round. The so-called “hapless” IBF champ Gualtieri might as well have been a punching bag with arms at the Ford Bend “Epicenter” (more like an epic snooze-center, am I right?).
Now, Alimkhanuly’s sitting pretty at 15-0, with an ego bigger than Texas, and he wants more gold around his waist. But here’s the tea: Bob Arum, the man pulling the strings at Top Rank, must be dreaming if he thinks he can wrangle the last two middleweight champs into the ring with Janibek.
Instead of chasing fantasies, Arum should nudge his golden boy up to the 168-lb division. Why? Because that’s where the real fighters and the real money are. And let’s be honest, Janibek’s chances of landing a significant fight in the super middleweight division are better than my chances of skipping dessert (and trust me, I love my cake).
If our Kazakhstani friend does decide to venture into deeper waters, here are the sharks he should consider fighting:
- David Benavidez (Because who doesn’t love a David vs. Goliath story?)
- Caleb Plant (The man with a name straight out of a cowboy movie)
- Demetrius Andrade (Surely, a fight with a fellow undefeated boxer is exciting?)
- David Morrell Jr. (Another David, because why not?)
- Canelo Alvarez (The Big Boss, enough said)
- Diego Pacheco (A rising star and a solid test)
But, whispers in the boxing community suggest that maybe, just maybe, Janibek or Top Rank doubts he can hold his own against these tough cookies. Is that it? Is our dear Janibek afraid of a little competition? If that’s the case, he might as well stick to the kiddie pool of the 160 division, where the fighters aren’t quite as scary.
But here’s a reality check: Janibek’s chances of fighting the two champions he needs at 160 to become undisputed are slimmer than a supermodel during fashion week. The only reason Gualtieri agreed to fight him is probably that he knew he’d get his behind handed to him sooner rather than later. So, why not against a Walmart version of Gennadiy Golovkin?
Looking back at the fight, it’s baffling that Gualtieri was even a champion. The man looked like he should be fighting off sleep, not a fellow boxer. And our champ Janibek? He made it look like a walk in the park. A left uppercut here, a barrage of combinations there, and it was night-night for Gualtieri. The ref called it at 1:25 of the sixth, saving Gualtieri from becoming the first man to be put to sleep while standing upright.
After his victory, Alimkhanuly tossed the ball into his promoters’ court, hoping they’d set up the fights he needs to become the undisputed middleweight champion. But let’s not hold our breath, folks. Jermall Charlo and Erislandy Lara aren’t exactly waiting by the phone for a call to fight Janibek.
Let’s face it; even if Top Rank backed up a money truck to Charlo and Lara’s front doors, they’d probably take one look at Janibek’s highlight reel and say, “No, thanks.” They’ve got bigger fish to fry, like, you know, not getting punched in the face by a guy who hits like a freight train.
The bottom line is, if Janibek wants those fights, he’s got to step up his game, make some noise, and maybe, just maybe, the big boys will come out to play. Until then, he can keep polishing his belts and dreaming of the day he steps into the ring with the real titans of the sport. And as for Gualtieri, better luck next time, champ! Maybe consider a career in something less…painful? Like knitting, perhaps? Keep those hands busy!