Janibek Alimkhanuly vs. Denzel Bentley: Preview, Prediction & Betting Odds



Janibek Alimkhanuly vs. Denzel Bentley: Preview, Prediction & Betting Odds

Janibek Alimkhanuly will have a quick night of work on Saturday.

The reigning WBO middleweight world titlist is set for his first defense, which will come against England's Denzel Bentley on Saturday in the headliner of a Top Rank/ESPN+ show from The Palms in Las Vegas.

Watch the fight on ESPN+ >>

Let's cut to the chase so we can save time. This is a mismatch.

Janibek Alimkhanuly (12-0, 9 KOs) claimed the interim WBO 160-pound title with a second-round knockout of then-unbeaten Danny Dignum on May 21 in Las Vegas. (Click here to read report by Gayle Falkenthal.) The fight came after the unbeaten Kazakh was named mandatory challenger to then-full WBO titlist Demetrius Andrade (31-0, 19 KOs), who twice backed out of negotiations to face Alimkhanuly. The unbeaten two-division world champion also twice bailed on talks with Zach Parker for a WBO interim title fight at super middleweight, for the record.

Andrade's fate was the relinquishment of his 160-pound title. Thus, Alimkhanuly was formally elevated to full titlist without stepping into the ring.

Bentley (17-1-1, 14 KOs), a fringe contender from London, fights for his first world title. He has won three fights consecutively following a third-round knockout loss to Felix Cash last April, having most recently scored a fifth-round knockout of Marcus Morrison in the fifth round of their September 16 bout.

But records truly mean nothing if you're not facing legitimate competition. Prior to getting knocked out by Bentley, Morrison (25-6, 16 KOs) was coming off a four-round points victory over Seamus Devlin (1-43-1). Before that fight, the 29-year-old was obliterated in four rounds by Parker after defeating Lewis van Poetsch (13-150-4, 4 KOs).

Although he has yet to face a former world champion, Janibek Alimkhanuly (12-0, 8 KOs), a 29-year-old southpaw based in Oxnard, California, has fought one world title contender (Hassan N'Dam) and a slew of secondary title challengers (Milton Nunez, Rob Brant). This is, for the most part, a completely different world from the opposition that Bentley has faced.

Alimkhanuly is an intelligent pressure fighter who combines high-level skills with a powerful jab, speed, fluidity, and ring IQ. As a lefty, Janibek Alimkhanuly can set up his shots from awkward angles and catch opponents in ways they have never seen before. For instance, in the Dignum fight, the Englishman was utterly overmatched and repeatedly dropped his hands before Alimkhanuly iced him with the left uppercut.

Bentley, like Dignum, is tailor-made for Janibek Alimkhanuly. And for a first title defense, a matchup of this magnitude is to be expected. But that doesn't change the fact that this fight will be over quickly.

The 27-year-old Bentley has never faced a southpaw, and this will undoubtedly be a rude introduction to left-handers. He doesn't box well on the back foot, and when he's on the defensive—particularly when he's near the ropes—he'll move straight back and drop his hands to chest level. Moving straight back against a southpaw is a cardinal sin, let alone against one of the elite lefties in the sport. Add in some significant defensive breakdowns, and Bentley will be in no man's land.


Janibek Alimkhanuly via first-round knockout.