The middleweight division is searching for a new star. WBO middleweight world champion Janibek Alimkhanuly of Kazakhstan (16-0, 11 KOs) still hasn’t made a strong case despite his TKO win against previously unbeaten IBF world champion Vincenzo Gualtieri of Germany (21-1-1, 7 KOs) in their unification title fight at the new Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas.
“This is my style of fight, this is the Qazaq Style, this is what I will continue doing,” said the unified champion.
Alimkhanuly: ‘He was not going to fight back'
Alimkhanuly stood across from an opponent who didn’t offer much offense, seemingly content to survive. Sound familiar? Alimkhanuly has an effective double jab, which was enough to stall Gualtieri in place the first few rounds of the fight.
Alimkhanuly finally landed the left uppercut off that double jab in the third round, followed up with left hooks to the body. Gualtieri backed off to compose himself. The Qazak waited for Gualtieri to move forward and make a mistake he could capitalize on.
It looked like it would be in round five when Alimkhanuly hurt Gualtieri with a left uppercut. He followed up with a right hook to the body, but another round clicked off.
Alimkhanuly caught Gualtieri again with the same left uppercut in the sixth round, and the accumulated damage started to show as Gualtieri’s legs wobbled. Alimkhanuly began to unload, and it didn’t take long for referee David Fields to step in to stop the fight at 1:25 of round six.
“We knew from the beginning he was not going to fight back. He was waiting, thinking I was going to get tired,” said Alimkhanuly.
Alimkhanuly landed 82 of 243 punches thrown (34%), while Gualtieri landed just 22 punches out of 85 thrown (22%). Alimkhanuly landed over half of his power punches.
Lara, Adames, or Charlo?
Alimkhanuly said, “We would like to add another two belts to this collection. We hope our promoter Top Rank can organize that.”
Gualtieri said, “Congratulations to Janibek. He was the better man today. I think it was a little bit early to break the fight but he was better today. He had a good punch, hard punch. You can see it in my face. But it was a little bit early (the stoppage). But he won, and I have respect for him.”
There remains a void at the top of the middleweight division. Alimkhanuly is skilled but not thrilling. The next star of the division might be someone moving up from the 154-pound division or the rising young star from Phoenix, Elijah Garcia.
Keyshawn Davis Gets Down To Business
In the 10-round lightweight co-feature, U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis of Norfolk, Virginia (10-0, 6 KOs) got down to business in a step-up fight against Philadelphia-born contender Nahir Albright of Sicklerville, New Jersey (16-3, 7 KOs). Davis fought a patient fight, not a crowd pleaser but a fight where he controlled the action and the outcome across all ten rounds. Scorecards were shockingly close, with Davis getting a majority decision with cards of 97-93, 96-94, and 95-95.
“I had it as a win for me, that’s all that matters,” Davis said after the bout. “Honestly, I’m never really satisfied. He was another tough fighter and this fight gave me more good experience. I want to show that I belong here in the 135 division at the top like the rest of them guys up there.”
After the sixth round, Albright told his corner he couldn’t see out of his eye. He continued to fight and put up as much resistance as he could to Davis, showing heart and good stamina. But he didn’t have the skills to slow Davis down. Davis landed 51% of his power punches, but there wasn’t the sustained attack needed against Albright to stop him.
Davis says he intends to return to the ring in December and called out Jose Pedraza for the matchup.
Richard Torrez Jr. Rips Through The Competition
U.S. Olympic silver medal heavyweight standout Richard Torrez Jr. of Tulare, California (7-0, 7 KOs) made it into the second round, dispatching Tyrrell Anthony Herndon of San Antonio (21-4, 14 KOs) at 1:26 with a straight left followed by a right hook. Herndon beat the count, but when Torrez Jr. swarmed him, Herndon turned his back for an in-the-ring “no mas.”
Torrez Jr. has impressive movement, footwork, and handspeed. He comes at his opponents like an angry swarm of hornets. He's a small, throwback-sized heavyweight, so if he's going to be competitive with the big super heavyweights, speed and pressure will serve him well.
Vianello Gets Pasts Harper
Guido Vianello of Italy (11-1-1, 9 KOs) went the eight-round distance in an uninspiring fight with the infamous Curtis Harper of Clarksville, Tennessee (14-10, 9 KOs). Scorecards read 80-72 and 79-73 for Vianello.
Gio Marquez Impressive in TKO Win
Houston native Giovanni Marquez of Houston (7-0, 5 KOs) made a step up and made an impression with a clinical performance highlighted by surgical power punching, dropping Donte Strayhorn of Dallas (12-4-1, 4 KOs) twice before the referee called off the fight at 2:47 of the second round.
The junior welterweight prospect Marquez, trained by his father Raul, the former junior middleweight champion and Showtime Boxing commentator, shows steady growth. He controls and cuts off the ring nicely and delivered a hard left hook on Strayhorn for the first knockdown and another seconds later. Strayhorn got to his feet, but as Marquez moved in, referee Alejandro Leon had seen enough.
Duke Ragan Gets Narrow SD Victory in Ring Return
U.S. Olympic silver medalist Duke Ragan of Cincinnati (9-0, 1 KOs) had a rough year, but perhaps he turned things around with a narrow split decision win in a featherweight fight against Jose Perez of Oak Hills, California (11-2-2, 5 KOs).
Ragan returned to the ring after struggling with health issues and his father's death. He shook off his ring rust but got caught with a left hook by Perez in the fifth round, the first knockdown of Ragan’s career. Ragan got up on shaky feet but made it out of the round and collected himself to finish the fight. Scores were 76-75 twice for Ragan and 76-75 for Perez. The crowd booed, believing Perez had done enough to win.
Junior welterweight prospect Kelvin Davis of Cincinnati (9-0, 6 KOs), Keyshawn's older brother, went the eight-round distance for a decision win against Narciso Carmona of Sevilla, Spain (11-1-1, 6 KOs).
Undercard Results: Successful Debut for Zokirov, Garcia Wins, Galindo and Bravo Draw
Alan Garcia of Ulysses, Kansas (10-0, 8 KOs) got the shutout in a six-round junior lightweight bout against Nelson Hampton of McAllen, Texas (10-8, 6 KOs). Garcia is trained by Gloria Alvarado of Costa Rica, who trains flyweight champion, Yokasta Valle.
Humberto Galindo of Tijuana (15-3-1, 11 KOs) and Oscar Bravo of Santiago, Chile (25-14, 11 KOs) fought an action-packed eight rounds to a majority draw.
Heavyweight Jakhongir Zokirov of Uzbekistan (1-0, 1 KO) made a successful pro debut against Guillermo Del Rio of Monterrey, Mexico (4-5-1, 2 KOs). Zokirov joins several Uzbek fighters in the Indio camp of trainer Joel Diaz. 6-foot-8 Zokirov towered over the awkward Del Rio and eventually battered him to a third-round TKO.