Janibek’s Smart Move: Targeting Benavidez and the 168-lb Division

By Dan Ambrose - 03/28/2024 - Comments

Janibek Alimkhanuly, the IBF/WBO middleweight champion, is reportedly ready and willing to move up to 168 to take on David Benavidez. Given the lack of compelling fights available, the fight makes sense for both guys.

Why 168 Makes Sense

Even if Janibek didn’t get the fight with Benavidez, it would be good for him to vacate his two middleweight titles [IBF & WBO] and start campaigning at 168, where the bigger money is.

Beyond a match against Benavidez at 168, Janibek would have these interesting options available to him at super middleweight:

  • Edgar Berlanga
  • Christian Mbilli
  • Diego Pacheco
  • Caleb Plant
  • Jaime Munguia
  • David Morrell
  • Canelo Alvarez

The hard-hitting Janibek has more opportunities at super middleweight than at 160, which is a dead division, and he has the power to compete with the best at 168.

Benavidez, 27, has been obsessively pining for a fight against Canelo Alvarez, but that fight has no realistic chance of happening without the Saudis’ involvement.

They’ve already made it clear that they’re more interested in matching Benavidez against the June 1st Dmitry Bivol winner vs. Artur Beterbiev light heavyweight undisputed clash.

According to Jose Benavidez Sr, Benavidez’s father, he’ll fight Oleksandr Gvozdyk in his debut at 175 on June 15th in a WBC light heavyweight title elimination on the undercard of Gervonta Davis vs. Frank Martin on PPV.

If Benavidez wins that, he’ll face the winner of the Bivol-Beterbiev bout in December in Saudi Arabia.

Janibek’s Opportunity

The chances are that Benavidez if he does get the fight for the undisputed light heavyweight championship, he’ll lose, and he’ll then be forced to return to the 168-lb division, licking his wounded pride, hoping to pick up the pieces of his career fighting smaller opposition like he’s been doing.

That’s why Janibek needs to position himself at 168 for when Benavidez returns to the weight class after losing against the Bivol or Benavidez because he will need a dance partner, and as this writer said, he can forget about Canelo.

Janibek recently defeated little-known Vincenzo Gualtieri by a sixth-round knockout to capture the IBF middleweight title last October.

That opponent was one example of how barren and lifeless their 160-lb division has become since Gennadiy Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez, and Jermall Charlo have moved on. If Janibek stays at middleweight for much longer, he’ll be stunting his career, limiting his opportunities to make the big money that fighters at 168 enjoy.