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Middleweight Needs A New Star – Could It Be Janibek?

The middleweight division needs help. Seriously.

The best guy in the division on paper is Gennadiy Golovkin, who is now 40 years old. The next best is Jermall Charlo, who has been out of the ring for a year and a half.

Of the top 15 middleweights, a list I keep in my bi-newsletter, only two fighters currently have fights set. Janibek Alimkhanuly, who fights Saturday, as well as a tune-up type bout for Jaime Munguia later this month as well.

It is clear most of the division has become content to not fight all that often, and some are just sitting waiting around seeing what Canelo Alvarez, who is now at super middleweight or Gennadiy Golovkin will do as many are pursuing those “mega-fights”. What we get now is….a whole lot of stagnation.

Middleweight and super middleweight have become divisions in which no one fights.

Esquiva Falcao and Felix Cash haven’t fought for a long time, Maciej Sulecki hasn’t fought since last year, despite having a Jermall Charlo fight fall through. Older fighters like Erislandy Lara are making waves in the division through activity alone. In fact, Carlos Adames is making a claim for being the best guy in the division as he is fighting credible opponents often this year.

In total nine of the top fifteen fighters on my list, haven’t fought in meaningful fights this year, two haven’t fought at all, and the rest had tune-up type bouts.

In short, middleweight needs the next guy. Middleweight needs a fighter willing to put the division on its back and generate fan interest. The hope it seems from the Top Rank Inc side is that middleweight Janibek Alimkhanuly will be that guy. Alimkhanuly will be fighting for the second time this year, as he won the vacant WBO middleweight title in his last fight via a brutal knockout over Danny Dignum, after Demetrius Andrade vacated the title. Andrade being the previous boogeyman of the division, gave Alimkhanuly the moniker of a boogeyman, as Andrade, literally couldn’t buy a fight over the past decade or so.

Add to it Alimkhanuly has taken to Twitter and other social media platforms to call out other fighters. He is doing his part outside the ring, and so far inside the ring as well as he is riding a six-fight knockout streak as well.

This Saturday, November 12th, at the Palms Casino, Alimkhanuly will look to make his first world title defense as he faces Denzel Bentley, a guy on paper who is going to struggle against Alimkhanuly, as Bentley’s best trait is one that won’t help him against Alimkhanuly. That trait being – toughness.

Though the match-up speaks to a bigger thing in the division, not unlike when Terence Crawford was becoming the best fighter in the sport, many might be in denial, but Alimkhanuly is approaching becoming the best middleweight as this would be the start of his era, it is just hard to believe the lack of depth in the division currently. The lack of an enticing opponent is just as much about him as it is the division though, let me explain.

Alimkhanuly is really good, and a lot of people are not willing to fight him just yet for the financial return they’d receive, which would be business 101, the risk outweighs the reward. Alimkhanuly is going to face a slew of opponents in the #8-16 range in the division as of right now, as the top guys will probably look for more financially fruitful fights for now. If Alimkhanuly continues with his dominant knockout victories, fan interest should increase, which therefore would net bigger purses for those looking to challenge him, meaning if he stays the course, the big fights will come.

The hope at least from my side is Alimkhanuly who reminds me of a more violent, Viktor Postol, can build some steam and luster while getting fans excited about a new world champion and have the general public excited about his future fights. Of the young fighters, Alimkhanuly is in the best position to become a formidable force in the division, as of now as Xander Zayas and Troy Isley are not quite ready to be in this division.

Now becomes the hard part, can Alimkhanuly live up to the hype presented as he is the most interesting fighter in the division, in my opinion, and we have no clue what his ceiling is? On Saturday, Alimkhanuly will have another chance to show us where he ranks up not just in the division, but in the landscape of boxing as he fights on ESPN+, at 8 PM PST, as Alimkhanuly is starting to look like a viable main event option for Top Rank moving forward.

Want to go to the fight, here is a link for tickets.

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle