Janibek Alimkhanuly retained his WBO middleweight title tonight, beating Denzel Bentley in a rougher, tougher fight than most expected.
Janibek (13-0, 8 KO) definitely didn’t dominate or run Bentley (17-2-1, 14 KO) over in this one, which was the outcome a lot of people figured they’d get. Instead, Bentley gamely went all 12 rounds, losing on scores of 116-112, 116-112, and 118-110. Bad Left Hook had it a bit closer at 115-113, with a lot of rounds that were kind of tough to call, where you could easily have favored the work rate of Bentley, or the superior accuracy of Alimkhanuly.
Either way, a big story coming from this will be that Janibek did not look like a “bogeyman,” which has been the hype this fight week, that nobody at 160 wants to fight him, and in plain fact, he has been avoided by many fighters, including Demetrius Andrade and Jaime Munguia. But has that been a great fear of how devastating he is, or more to do with basic economics and boxing’s political landscape, where Janibek still doesn’t have a big name?
At times, Bentley was able to make Janibek look a little robotic and predictable, but the fight got really rugged down the stretch. Both were tired, both were able to shake that off and turn up the heat here and there, and there was more closer-quarters trading. It was no Fight of the Year candidate, but interesting to examine in real time, and there will probably be a lot of adjusted predictions for Janibek’s future from here.
“It’s boxing. Anything can happen in the ring. He came prepared. I respect my opponent because he was really prepared, he was 100 percent,” Janibek said through manager Egis Klimas’ translation. “I am a champion and I fought all 12 rounds as a champion.”
“I’m ready for any champion, for unification,” he added. “I’m ready to fight anybody. Let’s fight.”
Janibek vs Bentley highlights
JANIBEK IS CLOSING WITH ALL THE FIREPOWER pic.twitter.com/sqaVo7GGii— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) November 13, 2022
Seniesa Estrada UD-10 Jazmin Villarino
Estrada made her Top Rank debut the successful one everyone expected, mostly dominating against Villarino (6-2-2, 1 KO) to retain her WBA 105 lb title.
Estrada (23-0, 9 KO) hadn’t fought in about a year, making the jump from Golden Boy over to Top Rank this year. Villarino was game and tried her best, but there was a clear skill gap between the two, and Villarino really only had even arguments in the fifth and 10th rounds. The judges scored it 100-90 across the board. Bad Left Hook had it 99-91 on our unofficial card.
Being honest, Estrada will need more compelling opposition — someone people think has a shot coming into the fight — to really gain more traction than she has in her career thus far, and she’s done well thus far but obviously she wants to do even bigger stuff. She’s a terrific fighter, one of the best in the sport pound-for-pound, and there are good opponents out there at 105, 108, and 112, and she can fight in those divisions. She seems intent on staying at 105 for now, but we’ll see where she goes.
- Raymond Muratalla TKO-6 Miguel Conteras: Contreras (12-2-1, 6 KO) was very tough, but took a beating here, and the fight was rightly stopped by the referee. Muratalla (16-0, 13 KO) has been sitting at about the same level for a while now, but he says he’s ready for bigger fights, and made a call-out for Jeremiah Nakathila, which I actually think is a good next step if it happens.
- Emiliano Vargas KO-2 Julio Cesar Martinez: Vargas is the 18-year-old son of Fernando Vargas, the most promising of Fernando’s three fighting sons. He’s got great length at 135 with a 72-inch reach, he mixes up his offense — I mean, we’ve only gotten to see so much of him in two pro fights, but you can see the talent here for sure. This is not an offspring fighter getting attention solely for his name, he’s a legit prospect, and this was a nasty KO of Martinez (1-1, 1 KO).
- Javier Martinez UD-6 Marco Antonio Delgado: I continue to personally not see much upside in Martinez, who at 27 goes to 8-0 (2 KO) with a win on scores of 59-55, 59-55, and 60-54. He’s a good boxer, but not exceptional, not a puncher — I just don’t see what the path is here for Top Rank. He wouldn’t still be in six-round fights against opponents like Delgado (7-5, 5 KO) if they thought a lot of his future. I’m not saying any of this to say that Martinez “sucks” or anything, he doesn’t, but the ceiling just looks really low still, I think. And I could also be wrong. He does keep winning, he does the jobs he’s given.
- Floyd Diaz TKO-4 Edgar Joe Cortes: Diaz, a 19-year-old junior featherweight prospect, goes to 8-0 (3 KO) with a stoppage win. He’s got good skills, I think he’s got more power than his record leads you to think, may still get some MANSTRENGTH!!!!, too. But more focus this night was on his trunks, which called out Naoya Inoue on the front and Stephen Fulton Jr on the back. Tim Bradley was not a big fan, but it’s basically designed to annoy and get attention, and it probably worked. But no, he has no business in a ring with either of those guys right now.
- Charlie Sheehy TKO-1 Markus Bowes: Markus Bowes turned pro on Oct. 8, fought again on Oct. 22, and now has tasted defeat, as he was trucked by Sheehy (5-0, 4 KO) in 97 seconds. Bowes is now 2-1 (2 KO).
- Karlos Balderas TKO-8 Esteban Sanchez: Largely one-way traffic until the stoppage a minute into the final round. Sanchez (18-3, 8 KO) took a beating here; very tough, very game, but he was out-matched by Balderas (14-1, 12 KO), who continues to be fun to watch even if he seems like a fairly low-ceiling sort of guy. It’s not that he lacks skills, but his defense is never going to be a strong suit, and good punches will be a problem for him. It’s already happened once.
- Antonio Mireles KO-1 Eric Perry: The 6’9” Mireles improves to 6-0 (6 KO), and still hasn’t seen a third round. Perry (5-1-1, 5 KO) flashed skills as good as Mireles’, but he was also a foot shorter, got rocked a little with a shot, Mireles put punches together, and Perry flopped a bit, being honest, and took the 10-count. I don’t care that he did that. I hope he enjoyed his trip to Vegas. The Top Rank Tweet about it tries to make it sound a lot more devastating: