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WBO orders Janibek Alimkhanuly vs Liam Smith

Jaime Munguia and Meiirim Nursultanov sit behind Liam Smith in the rankings

Janibek Alimkhanuly v Denzel Bentley Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

It ain’t happening, but it’s worth mentioning. The WBO has officially ordered middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly to defend his title against Liam Smith, who shot to the top of the rankings after last month’s knockout of Chris Eubank Jr. The two have 20 days to come to terms and avoid a purse bid.

The big, obvious obstacle is Eubank, who announced last week that he’d activated his rematch clause. Even Smith (33-3-1, 20 KO) wasn’t required to fight Eubank again, there’s no reason for him not to; it’s far more lucrative than facing “Qazaq Style” (13-0, 8 KO), and Smith’s only consequences to turning him down would be potentially losing his spot in the middleweight rankings.

Considering “Beefy” is ranked no. 1 with the WBC at 154 and no. 4 with the WBA, I think he can live with that.

This means that it’s once again time to go down the WBO rankings to find Alimkhanuly an opponent. At no. 2 sits our old buddy Jaime Munguia, a man who’s been squatting in both the WBO and WBC top 15s for years and turning down more title fights than your average contender gets offered in a lifetime. Behind him is Meiirim Nursultanov, then Felix Cash and Esquiva Falcao. Cash is occupied and Falcao’s got a vacant IBF title shot ahead of him, so odds are it’ll be an all-Kazakh affair.

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