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Janibek Alimkhanuly-Issah Samir, Oscar Rivas-Devin Vargas join Beterbiev-Meng

All four men have Olympic experience

Emanuel Navarrete v Francisco De Vaca Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Former amateur world champion Janibek Alimkhanuly returns to action against fellow middleweight Olympian Issah Samir in the co-main event of Artur Beterbiev vs. Meng Fanlong, while newly signed Oscar Rivas makes his Top Rank debut against Devin Vargas in the featured ESPN+ prelim.

In addition to wins over Anthony Fowler and Jason Quigley in the amateurs, Alimkhanuly (8-0, 4 KO) has enjoyed a rather expedited pro career, exclusively fighting opponents with winning records during his 3.5 years in the game. He notably defeated Vaughn Alexander in just his fourth pro fight, and the 26-year-old “Qazaq Style” is adamant that he’s not looking for easy outs.

“I only want the toughest competition. That’s why I am a contender after eight pro fights,” Alimkhanuly said. “This is a great opportunity to showcase my skills live on ESPN. I will leave Canada with the ‘0’ on my record. I want to thank Samir for taking the fight, but he won’t be able to solve the ‘Qazaq Style’ puzzle.”

Samir (18-0, 15 KO), who represented Ghana at the 2008 Games, hasn’t been quite as discerning with his competition. He’s fought exclusively in his hometown of Accra, mostly against sub-.500 opposition, and will be taking a massive step up against Alimkhanuly.

“I am coming to Canada to steal the show,” Samir said. “Every time I enter the ring, I fight for Ghana and our great champions who paved the way. Janibek is skilled fighter, but I know he has not fought anyone like me.”

We’ve known about Rivas’ (26-1, 18 KO) presence on this card since earlier this week, but Vargas’ (22-6, 9 KO) name had not cropped up until now. Despite an Olympic pedigree, Vargas has lost to practically every marginally notable foe he’s fought, including such luminaries as Kevin Johnson, Andrzej Wawrczyk, and Jason Bergman. Rivas looks to be well beyond the gate Vargas traditionally keeps.

I’d also like to point out this sentence in the press release:

Vargas (22-6, 9 KOs) revitalized his career in January with an upset victory over the 2004 Puerto Rican Olympian Victor Bisbal.

This is the same Bisbal whom Frank Sanchez pounded into submission four months prior. Vargas beat him by low-blow-induced DQ.

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