ESPN has boxing for your viewing pleasure Saturday night. Top Rank runs from STOCKTON, Ca., a world championship doubleheader.
It’s an under radar offering; history tells us these can be some of the more fan friendly scraps offered. (Less hype, more hitting. Less famous athletes tend to be hungrier than their more well known counterparts).
Do Not Ask Me To Spell The Name
Undefeated Kazakh Janibek “Qazaq Style” Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8 KOs) defends his WBO middleweight world title against Canadian contender Steven Butler (32-3-1, 26 KOs).
In the co-feature, Australia’s Jason “Mayhem” Moloney (25-2, 19 KOs) faces big-Filipino contender Vincent Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KOs) for the vacant WBO bantamweight world title.
Here is more info from a Top Rank release:
Janibek-Butler and Moloney-Astrolabio will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
The ESPN+-streamed undercard (6:15 p.m ET/3:15 p.m. PT) includes Stockton-born lightweight Gabriel Flores Jr. (21-2, 7 KOs) and top featherweight contender Ruben Villa (19-1, 6 KOs) in separate eight-round bouts.
Amado Fernando Vargas (6-0, 2 KOs), the undefeated son of former junior middleweight world champion Fernando Vargas, is also set to return in a four-rounder.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Eye of the Tiger, tickets starting at $25 are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com.
At Thursday's press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.
“I’m very excited. This is my second defense. I prepared very well for this fight. I don’t want to just defend my title. I want to unify titles. I think it’s going to be a great fight this Saturday night.”
“I really enjoyed training at Brickhouse Boxing. In my last fight, I fought all 12 rounds, and I felt like something was missing. So, we added a new conditioning coach, and he has helped me a lot. I had a very good preparation. I really enjoy working with Buddy McGirt at Brickhouse Boxing.”
“I got a new conditioning coach because I understand that it will help me grow. If you keep doing the same things, then you will stay in the same place. I wanted to grow. I wanted to unify. I wanted to fight Jermall Charlo. I wanted to fight Erislandy Lara. In order to do that, I knew that I had to make changes.”
“As a fighter, I really respect him because he says what he thinks. But I’m going to show him that not only will he not be able to knock me out, he won’t even be able to touch me.”
“I’m 100 percent ready. I have a lot of respect for Janibek for giving me the opportunity, but he’ll be making a big mistake if he tries to think past me. I want to knock him out. I want the belt. That’s it.”
“I’ve learned a lot. I started boxing when I was 11 years old. I’m 27 now. So, I have a lot experience behind me. When I put it all together on Saturday night, I’m going to shock the world.”
“This means a lot to me. It’s a dream come true. We have worked a long time for this title shot. And now we have the opportunity this Saturday night to fight for, and win, the title.”
“I’m scared of nobody. I’ve taken risks my whole life. Janibek is a good boxer. I have nothing bad to say about him. But we worked hard in this training camp. I’ve worked hard my entire life for this fight.”
“This means everything to me. I’ve been boxing for nearly 20 years now and chasing this one dream of becoming champion of the world. It’s something I think about every single day of my life. I train so hard. I’ve made so many sacrifices to be in this position. So, I’m ready. Nothing will make me prouder than having that belt wrapped around my waist and sharing this special moment with my family and my team.”
This is a really special moment for us. I’ll be fighting to become world champion this weekend. And my brother, Andrew, will fight for a world title on the Haney vs. Lomachenko card as well. This is an incredible story. Two twin brothers that have been on this journey for nearly 20 years. For us to finally achieve it and to become champions one week apart is incredible.”
“I’m am very determined to take the belt home to the Philippines for my family, my country and my people. I am prepared 100 percent. I am very much ready for this fight.”
“I have this stuffed kangaroo because I will give it to Jason. I have it because I think of Jason as a baby kangaroo.”
Gabriel Flores Jr.
“It feels amazing to be here. It gives me life. It gives me energy. It helps me keep on going. Because when I fight and I win, my whole city wins. My whole city is going in there with me. So, it feels great. I feel so alive here. I can’t wait to repeat 2019.”
“It feels good to finally be on the A-side of the card. To repay the people who have helped me, I always want to perform well. I want to perform at the best. I got to work at the Top Rank Gym for this camp. And everything went well. I really can’t wait to show what I’ve been working on.”
Amado Fernando Vargas
“Training camp has been phenomenal. I’ve been working with Gabriel Flores and his father. They’ve been helping me out tremendously in camp with my boxing. And, of course, my father Fernando Vargas has been helping us. He showed me how to throw my first punch, and now we’re here together on the big stage.”
Saturday, May 13
ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT)
Janibek Alimkhanuly vs. Steven Butler, 12 rounds, Janibek's WBO Middleweight World Title
Jason Moloney vs. Vincent Astrolabio, 12 rounds, Vacant WBO Bantamweight World Title
ESPN+ (6:15 p.m. ET/3:15 p.m. PT)
Gabriel Flores Jr. vs. Derrick Murray, 8 rounds, Lightweight
Javier Martinez vs. Joeshon James, 8 rounds, Middleweight
Ruben Villa vs. Maickol Lopez Villagrana, 8 rounds, Featherweight
Amado Fernando Vargas vs. Bernardo Manzano, 4 rounds, Junior Lightweight
Haven Brady Jr. vs. D'Angelo Fuentes, 8 rounds, Junior Lightweight
Brian Norman Jr. vs. Jesus Perez, 8 rounds, Welterweight