Alimkhanuly stops Gualtieri in 6th, unifies titles

Boxing

Saturday’s middleweight title unification bout turned into a showcase performance for one of boxing’s champions.

Janibek Alimkhanuly picked up another belt in the 160-pound division in an outing that displayed his power and dominance. He stopped Vicenzo Gualtieri in the sixth round at the Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas, to add the IBF middleweight tile to his WBO championship.

Alimkhanuly didn’t have much of an opposition to earn half of the share of the middleweight titles.

“We knew from the beginning that he’s not going to fight back,” Alimkhanuly said through his manager, Egis Klimas, who translated his post-fight interview with ESPN. “We knew about that. He was waiting because he was thinking I was going to get tired.

“But I didn’t get tired.”

Instead, Alimkhanuly (15-0, 10 KOs) picked up the intensity as the fight progressed and eventually applied the necessary pressure to secure the stoppage.

After a left uppercut buzzed Gualtieri (21-1-1, 7 KOs), the previously undefeated German retreated to one of the ring’s corners. Alimkhanuly unloaded a barrage of punches that left referee David Fields no choice but to waive off the action.

“I think it was a little bit early to break the fight, but sure, he was better today,” Gualtieri said in his post-fight interview.

By the third round, Alimkhanuly’s power and precision were evident. A small bruise beneath Gualtieri’s left eye appeared in the third round, a byproduct of Alimkhanuly’s jabs out of a southpaw stance. In the ensuing three minutes of action, the eye started to swell shut.

In the fifth round, Gualtieri was hurt by a big left uppercut that left the German swirling around the ring to stave off Alimkhanuly’s surging momentum. But it was only a matter of time until Alimkhanuly landed the necessary shots to win via technical decision.

When asked about the Kazakh fighter’s power, Gualtieri said it roughly equates to a “dry punch” in German, a phrase that appeared to imply a hefty sense of force.

“We see that in my face,” said Gualtieri, who also had markings and abrasions on the bridge of his nose and forehead.

Alimkhanuly strengthened his case as perhaps the most fearsome middleweight in the world. He was No. 2 in ESPN’s divisional rankings entering Saturday night. Gennadiy Golovkin, the No. 1 160-pounder who also hails from Kazakhstan, has not fought since he lost a lopsided decision to rival Canelo Alvarez in 2022.

The other two champions in the division have not been active, either. WBA titlist Erislandy Lara hasn’t fought since May 2022, while WBC champ Jermall Charlo has been out of the ring since June 2021.

Alimkhanuly stated his intentions of becoming the undisputed middleweight champion.

“We would like to add another two belts to this collection,” he said through his manager.

Davis survives scare

Lightweight prospect Keyshawn Davis squeaked out a victory in the co-main event of Saturday’s Top Rank on ESPN card. Davis defeated Nahir Albright by majority decision, 97-93, 96-94, 95-95 to remain undefeated.

Previously, Davis (10-0, 6 KOs) had not struggled in his other two bouts in 2023 as he looked to improve his stock as a future title contender. But after he was hurt in the eighth round by a counter right hand, the 2020 U.S. Olympian needed a bit of resolve to keep his pro record without a blemish.

“I had it as a win for me,” Davis said. “That’s all that matters.”

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