WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly is seeking his own legacy in the middleweight division. His third world title defense which comes this weekend against IBF world champion Vincenzo Gualtieri in a unification bout at the Fort Bend Community Center in Rosenberg, Texas, is getting as much fan-fare right now as your average 14-0 fighter, the record Janibek currently has.
A shadow looms large over the Kazakh boxer as the greatest middleweight of the modern era, Gennadiy Golovkin, comes from the same place as himself, and will always be compared to him. Alimkhanuly has no favors given to him the middleweight division is in despair looking for the next person to 'save the division.' Fighters once thought of as contenders are now becoming long-reigning dominant champions such as Carlos Adames, and Chris Eubank Jr. a legitimate top-five fighter in the division, which has never truly been the case prior.
The middleweight division is making good fighters great based on the lack of depth.
The President of Top Rank, Todd DuBoef, recently spoke to Sky Sports in which he referenced the fact that is hard for Janibek to land a marquee bout.
"He's in a division which has a lot of non-high profile fighters - the high profile guys in the division have gone up in weight, so we don't have a real robust division," said DuBoef to Sky Sports. "That's why he's going in for a unification.
The thoughts were echoed by the WBO middleweight champion's manager, Egis Klimas in the spring when he fought in Stockton, California in his second world title defense against Steven Butler. The hint of a tad bit of frustration lingered as they seemingly have tried to go the way of forcing mandatories, but have seen it uneventful in landing fights the world wants to see. Demetrius Andrade moved up a weight class, and Jaime Munguia did too. Alimkhanuly is looking for good fights, but they are hard to come by.
"Very hard, it [is] very hard [to find fights for Janibek],” said his manager Egis Klimas to ProBox TV News prior to Janibek's previous fight in Stockton, California. “160 lbs division everyone is running from him. Nobody wants to fight him."
As for his coach, the legendary Buddy McGirt. McGirt feels that it is important for the team to stay focused in the present time as looks to become the middleweight icon of the modern era.
“Eventually, the key is to put [the middleweight division fighters] in a position where they have no choice, but to fight him,” said McGirt to ProBox TV News earlier this year. “In the meantime, we work on getting better. So when we get there, and get to the big dance, [we are ready]!”
As for his opponent, Gualtieri, he recently beat Esquiva Falcao, in a fight that was unwatchable in the United States. It was reported that Gualtieri also dropped Falcao in this fight as well. The positive to come from that result was it appears Gualtieri is highly motivated by legacy as he could have spent a good part of his career fighting in Germany and making title defenses. Instead, we are getting an interesting bout that is flying under the radar based on the obscurity of both fighters.
Janibek currently is boxing's silent giant. Not armed with English language, and a social media account that says stuff to get big fights, but sadly gets unnoticed. This is his moment to make a stand, and a say the middleweight division in 2023 (and 2024) is worth watching, because of him.