Last night at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, CA, we got exactly what we thought would occur, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t exciting to watch. WBO middleweight champion Janibek ‘Qazaq Style’ Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9 KOs)destroyed Steven Butler (32-4-1, 26 KOs), and it took just two rounds to do it. In the lead-up, I thought the fight would at least make it to the eighth round, but it seemed like Janibek meant business and did not want to waste any time on Butler.
Janibek heard all of the comments from the peanut gallery that his unanimous decision victory against Denzel Bentley (18-2-1, 15 KOs) was less than impressive, so this performance had to silence those critics. In the first round, it seemed like it was heading towards another night where an opponent would last longer than they needed to, but for Janibek, he was gauging distance and seeing if Butler had anything to offer. The second round was a blur as Janibek’s left uppercut crushed Butler’s soul, and after that was the left hook and a barrage of punches. Referee Jack Reiss often calls a solid fight, but he should have pulled the plug last night after the first knockdown, as Butler’s legs were gone. Regardless, he let the fight go, and two more knockdowns later, he saw enough, and Janibek earned his 14th victory.
.@QazaqStyle did not disappoint tonight 🍿@BoostMobile x #JanibekButler pic.twitter.com/qGpWuzefnH— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) May 14, 2023
In the post-fight interview, Janibek said, “Champions. Boxing superstars! Where are you? I am waiting. Let’s fight. I am the most avoided boxer. I am the middleweight king. Let’s go. Let’s fight. I am ready for anybody. Anytime. Anywhere.” This is where things get tricky, as the middleweight division isn’t filled with a lot of talent, and the ones that do exist, aren’t with Top Rank. There is a fight with Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs), who isn’t committed to anyone at the moment but will want a ton of money and more than likely won’t fight a guy like Janibek, who is on the rise. Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) hasn’t fought in two years, and who knows the next time we will see him in action and if it will even be at middleweight. The IBF title is vacant, and the names that are gunning for that aren’t ones that will push the needle. The WBA champion Erislandy Lara (29-3-3, 17 KOs) is fighting Danny Garcia (37-3, 21 KOs) at a catch weight in August, so what does Janibek do? He may have to take a stay-busy fight later this year and consider a move to 168 in 2024 or work something out with one of the other promoters for a unification fight.
"I'm the most avoided boxer."— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) May 14, 2023
🗣️ @QazaqStyle makes his message clear. pic.twitter.com/Ci6gCFlups
Whatever happens, Janibek is ready, and his ‘Qazaq Style’ is picking up momentum fast, which isn’t good news for everyone else in the division. Is he the most avoided fighter at middleweight? Is he the ‘Boogeyman’? Both questions are similar but ones that are being shouted from all directions. Janibek is coming, so middleweight champions and contenders, beware.
JASON MOLONEY SECURES WBO STRAP IN A DIVISION THAT IS WIDE OPEN
Jason Moloney is bringing the gold back home to Australia 🇦🇺 #JanibekButler pic.twitter.com/Kl23VlMFk9— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) May 14, 2023
Jason Moloney (26-2, 19 KOs) is another example that if you lose your ‘0’, it isn’t the end of your career, especially in the bantamweight division where the top fighters face each other more often than none. His first loss was a narrow-split decision against Emmanuel Rodriguez (21-2, 13 KOs) and then a knockout to Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs). Those two losses were against top opponents, but Moloney and his team kept pushing forward. After four straight victories and Inoue vacating the titles, Moloney was back in the title picture and ready for the moment. Although he earned a majority decision (114-114,115-113 & 116-112) last night, the fight was Moloney’s all the way, and there was no scenario where he could have been robbed from his moment.
Moloney admitted after the fight that he broke his hand in the third round. Fighting through that is tough, and he will get some much-deserved rest after winning the title. “I thought I won it going away, but all that matters is the victory. And now I have this belt for the rest of my life. I broke my hand in the third or fourth round. It hurt every time I threw it. But I knew this was my last chance to make my dream come true.” Moloney has options at bantamweight, but before he gets to look at what’s next, he has to first fix his hand and see how long it will keep him out of the ring. All of that can wait as for Moloney, this is the time to enjoy the victory, support his brother’s fight and then head back home to Australia as a world champion.