Denzel Bentley will take a brief break from his own fight preparations this weekend and pay close attention to the middleweight unification battle between WBO champion, Janibek Alimkhanuly, and his IBF counterpart, Vincenzo Gaultieri.
Bentley (18-2-1, 15 KO’s) dropped a unanimous decision to Janibek last November. The 27 year old from Battersea started slowly in his first foray into world class but grew in confidence as the rounds passed by. As the fight entered the middle rounds, he was fighting on even terms with the avoided Kazakh southpaw. Although he didn’t leave Las Vegas with the WBO title, he did establish himself a genuine threat in the 160lb division.
Bentley has appeared once since, scoring a devastating first round knockout of Kieran Smith to defend his British middleweight title and can win the famous Lonsdale Belt outright by beating unbeaten ticket seller, Nathan Heaney, on Queensberry Promotions’ ‘Magnificent Seven’ show on November 18th.
Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9 KO’s) has been calling for unification fights since winning the WBO interim title last May. The Kazakh southpaw gets his wish this weekend. Gaultieri (21-0-1, 7 KO’s) bounces straight into the fight having beaten Esquiva Falcao for the vacant IBF belt in July in a real upset. The unbeaten German dropped the Brazilian twice en route to a unanimous decision victory but will again be a sizeable underdog.
Bentley is desperate for another world title shot and hasn’t been shy about calling for a rematch with Janibek. He feels the Kazakh will still be a champion after Saturday night and that any future revenge mission will come with the added bonus of two belts instead of one.
“I think it’ll be Janibek. Gaultieri is a good fighter though. I remember watching his fight Falcao and I didn’t think he was gonna win that because I hadn’t seen much of him before,” Bentley told Queensberry at a press conference to promote his fight with Heaney. “He put him over early in the fight and literally just took the fight away and won it wide. He’s a good fighter. He’s got a lot of skill. He’s got good movement. He’s got fast hands as well. He doesn’t carry much power though or maybe he just doesn’t use his power much.
“Janibek’s smart. He’s a calculated fighter. He punches very sharp. He hits hard enough – like you saw in his last fight – to knock anybody out. He’s skillful as well. I don’t think he’ll lack in any of the departments. I think he has everything over Gaultieri but Gaultieri’s probably got that little bit more foot speed.
“I think Janibek wins.”