Janibek Alimkhanuly has added a touch of ‘Hawaiian Punch’ to his ‘Qazaq’ style.
The reigning WBO middleweight titlist will enter the biggest fight of his career to date with a new chief second in tow.
Brian Viloria will be the lead voice in the corner for Alimkhanuly’s middleweight unification bout versus IBF titlist Vincenzo Gualtieri. The move came after previously training under the tutelage of another former two-division champ in James ‘Buddy’ McGirt.
“I changed my trainer for this fight,” Alimkhanuly explained ahead of his third attempted title defense. “We got all the knowledge that we could from Buddy McGirt. And now we have a new trainer in Brian Viloria.
“We are doing new workouts and learning new things. We’re also adding things to my style. On Saturday night, you’ll see a new side of me.”
Alimkhanuly-Gualtieri will headline an ESPN-televised card this Saturday from Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas. The winner of the fight should emerge as the leader of a barren middleweight division. Kazakhstan’s Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9KOs) has screamed for the type of opportunities that would allow him to advance to the head of the class. The cries fell on deaf ears, even after he was upgraded from interim to full WBO middleweight titlist last summer when Demetrius Andrade (32-0, 19KOs) relinquished the belt in lieu of a mandatory title defense.
The call was finally answered shortly after Germany’s Guatieri (21-0-1, 7KOs) claimed the vacant IBF belt left behind by Gennadiy Golovkin. The unbeaten middleweight soundly outpointed 2012 Olympic Silver medalist Esquiva Falcao, who was also undefeated at the time of their July 1 title fight in Gualtieri’s hometown of Wuppertal, Germany.
Top Rank—who promotes Alimkhanuly and Falcao—immediately reached out to secure a much-needed unification fight at this weight.
Alimkhanuly stepped up his game and sought new leadership in Viloria (38-6, 23KOs), a former junior flyweight titlist and unified flyweight champ from Hawaii who also represented the U.S. in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The two set up camp at Churchill Boxing Club in Santa Monica, California, with the unbeaten Kazakh boxer eager to apply those teachings to what he hopes to be a second title claim.
“My new trainer was a world champion, so he knows what this is about,” noted Alimkhanuly. “It was our first camp together, so we couldn’t add too much. But I’ll show what I learned in the ring on Saturday night.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox