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WBO orders Janibek vs. Liam Smith

Image: WBO orders Janibek vs. Liam Smith

By Craig Daly: Unbeaten WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8 KOs) has been ordered by the sanctioning body to defend his title next against his #1 contender Liam Smith. The two have 20 days to hammer out a deal before a purse bid on March 14th.

However, Smith (33-3-1, 20 KOs) won’t be able to take the WBO-ordered fight against Janibek because he’s got a rematch with Chris Eubank Jr that is expected to take place in May or June.

Eubank Jr (32-3, 23 KOs) has already activated the rematch clause for the Smith fight after being knocked out by him in the fourth round on January 21st in Manchester, England.

Obviously, the 34-year-old ‘Beefy’ Smith won’t be too upset at missing out on a title shot against WBO middleweight champion Janibek because the money he’ll get from his rematch with Eubank Jr will be excellent. Besides, Janibek isn’t the champion that Liam wants to fight at 160.

Liam Smith wants Golovkin

Smith wants a title shot against WBA middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin, which would be a fight that would attract a lot more attention in the UK, and likely pay considerably better than a fight against Janibek.

Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 KOs) hasn’t said whether he’d be willing to give Liam a title shot, but considering that it’s a very winnable fight for him and it would pay well, it’s probable that he’ll take it if Smith wins his rematch against Eubank Jr.

With Smith likely not taking the title shot against Janibek, the WBO will work down their rankings and select the next highest ranked contender to battle for their middleweight belt. According to their latest rankings, they’ll ask #2, Jaime Munguia.

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It’s fair to say that Munguia (41-0, 33 KOs) will immediately reject taking the fight against the dangerous southpaw puncher Janibek and continue to stay in a holding pattern with his career while waiting for a big payday fight against one of the big names to fall into his lap.

WBO’s top five ranking at middleweight

1. Liam Smith
2. Jaime Munguia
3. Meirim Nursultanov
4. Felix Cash
5. Esquiva Falcao

If Meirim Nursultanov (18-0, 10 KOs) is the one that ultimately takes the fight against Janibek, it’s one that won’t attract much buzz from fans.

The seven-year profssional Nursultanov (18-0, 10 KOs), who comes from Kazahkstan, isn’t widely known, and the only notable name on his resume is Marcelo Esteban Coceres, who he defeated by a narrow 10 round unaimous decision last October.

Janibek, 29, is coming off a successful title defense against the tough Denzel Bentley last November in Las Vegas. Bentley, who was given no chance by fans, proved to be a game challenger, and pushed Janibek in the later rounds. Janibek faded in the championship rounds, allowing Bentley (17-2-1, 14 KOs) to rally.

However, Janibek preserved his victory by hurting Bentley in the 12th round with huge shots to the head that had him on the verge of being knocked out. The scores were 116-112, 116-112, and 118-110.


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