By Mark Eisner: WBO 160-lb Janibek Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9 KOs) will face Vincenzo Gualtieri, the IBF middleweight champion, tonight in a unification fight promoted by Top Rank at Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas. The 2020 Olympian Janibek is the favorite due to his power, size, and pedigree, but the German fighter Gualtieri has the skills to pull off an upset.
The live boxing results will be provided below of tonight’s action on this ESPN card.
For many U.S. fans, the co-feature is the one they’re more interested in between highly-ranked lightweight Keyshawn Davis and Nahir Albright in a fight scheduled for ten rounds. Although the contest is considered a woeful mismatch, fans still want to see the talented Keyshawn (9-0, 6 KOs) in action because he’s got superstar written all over him.
The main portion of the Janibek vs. Gualtieri event starts at 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.
In the preliminary undercard on ESPN+, which begins at 5:55 p.m. ET/2:55 p.m. PT, heavyweight prospect Richard Torrez Jr. will face Tyrell Anthony Herndon (21-4, 14 KOs) in a fight scheduled for six rounds.
The 24-year-old Torrez Jr. (6-0, 6 KOs) captured a silver medal in the 2020 Olympics for the U.S., and he has a chance of one day capturing a world title if he’s matched against the right guy by Top Rank. What Torrez Jr. has going against him is his lack of size. At 6’2″, he’ll have problems against the taller heavyweights in the division.
Tonight’s Torrez Jr-Herndon fight will likely be another quick blowout win for Torrez, who is a huge puncher.
Other notable fights on tonight’s undercard:
- Giovanni Marquez battles Donte Strayhorn in a six-round light welterweight contest
- Featherweight Duke Ragan faces Jose Perezi in an eight-round bout.
- Light welterweight Kelvin Davis (9-0, 6 KOs) takes on Narciso Carmona (11-1-1, 6 KOs) in an eight-round fight.
Needless to say, Rosenberg, Texas strange location for the Janibek-Gualtieri & Keyshawn-Albright card to be staged. It’s unclear what Top Rank was thinking in placing the event in this location; none of those fighters are from that area, and it’s difficult to imagine a large crowd turning up at the Ford Bend Epicenter to watch it.
“They were artists, they were savage, but they were stars. Middleweight was always a glamour division until now,” said Mark Kriegel of ESPN to Top Rank Boxing, talking about how the 160-lb division has fallen off and is no longer filled with popular fighters.
The more popular former middleweights like Canelo Alvarez and Demetrius Andrade have moved up to 168. Gennadiy Golovkin, who had been one of the biggest stars in the middleweight division, has seemingly retired from boxing after his loss to Canelo last year.
“You’ve got reigning champions [WBC 160-lb belt-holder Jermall Charlo], who haven’t fought in years, a 40-year-old [WBA champ Erislandy Lara], and guys you just don’t know [Vincenzo Gualtieri],” said Kriegel.
Most fans would agree that the WBC needs to strip inactive middleweight champion Jermall Charlo and elevate Carlos Adames to the full champ. Jermall hasn’t fought in 2 1/2 years, and he’s been allowed to freeze his title by the World Boxing Council.
“There hasn’t been a unified middleweight champion since Gennadiy Golovkin of Kazakhstan,” said Kriegel. “Well, at least that’s about to change. You’ve got the boxer [IBF middleweight champion Gualtieri] and the puncher [WBO 160-lb champ Janibek Alimkhanuly]; another Kazakh, in fact, undefeated big hitter southpaw, which is just how he [Gualtieri] likes it.
“It’s a good fight on paper. Now give us a reason to care,” said Kriegel.
Janibek will likely succeed in becoming the unified middleweight champion tonight by beating Gualtieri, but he’s unlikely to fill the shoes of Golovkin and Canelo by becoming a star in the division.
There’s no one for Janibek to fight to increase his popularity, which is why he should move up to 168 if he’s confident of finding success. If nothing else, Janibek will get some bigger paydays at super middleweight.