WBO middleweight titleholder Janibek Alimkhanuly will attempt to defend his belt for the second time on Saturday night, when he squares off against Steven Butler of Canada. The bout will headline a Top Rank on ESPN/ESPN+ card from the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California, USA.
Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8 KO), fighting out of Kazakhstan, won the WBO interim title after knocking Danny Dignum in May of last year. He was then promoted to full champion status after Demetrius Andrade was stripped later that Summer. His most recent appearance and first title defense was a unanimous decision win over Denzel Bentley in November.
Butler (32-3-1, 26 KO) embarked on a spectacular and active run in 2022, winning four fights: two by decision, two by knockout or stoppage. Before that, he was coming off of a year layoff and a TKO loss to Jose de Jesus Macias in January 2021.
Janibek is coming into the fight as a huge favourite over Butler, and is expected to win this fight and move on to bigger and better things. Currently, the top five of the WBO rankings proposes a solid list of potential challengers, including Gennady Golovkin, Liam Smith and Jaime Mungia.
Fighter’s Form (last 5 fights):
Denzel Bentley - WIN by UD (118-110, 116-112, 116-112) - 12/11/2022
Danny Dignum - WIN by KO 2 - 21/05/2022
Hassan N’Dam - WIN by TKO 8 - 20/11/2021
Rob Brant - WIN by TKO after 8 - 14/08/2021
Gonzalo Gaston Coria - WIN by KO 2 - 09/10/2020
Joshua Conley - WIN by UD (99-91, 97-93, 96-94) - 16/12/2022
Mark DeLuca - WIN by TKO 2 - 16/09/2022
Brandon Brewer - WIN by UD (100-89, 100-90, 99-90) - 23/06/2022
Hector Manuel Zepeda - WIN by TKO 3 - 03/03/2022
Jose de Jesus Macias - LOSS by TKO 5 - 29/01/2021
Date: May 13th, 2023
Time: 3am (GMT), 7pm (PT), 10pm (ET)
Venue: Stockton Arena, Stockton, California, USA
Elsewhere on the card
In the co-main event, bantamweight contenders Jason Moloney (25-2, 19 KO) and Vincent Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KO) will fight for the vacant WBO title. Also on the card is Stockton’s own Gabriel Flores Jr. (21-2, 7 KO), who will be taking on Derrick Murray (17-8-1, 6 KO) in an eight round bout.