Denzel Bentley (L) and Janibek Alimkhanuly (R) change punches throughout their WBO middleweight title bout at The Palms in Las Vegas. Picture by Mikey Williams/High Rank Inc through Getty Pictures
ESPN loudly touted Janibek Alimkhanuly because the “Boogeyman” of the middleweight division going into his WBO title protection in opposition to unheralded Denzel Bentley but when that was ever true, it in all probability gained’t be after the 29-year-old Kazakhstan native struggled over the second half of a hard-fought 12-round resolution victory on Saturday at The Palm in Las Vegas.
Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8 KOs) gained by scores of 118-110 and 116-112 (twice) however Bentley (17-2-1, 14 KOs), a tricky 27-year-old London native with stable fundamentals, had a number of sturdy moments. Early on, nonetheless, Alimkhanuly, The Ring’s No. 5-rated middleweight, appeared in agency command by dictating the tempo and distance as he tagged Bentley along with his southpaw straight left.
Bentley appeared hesitant, possibly even intimidated as ESPN’s Mark Kriegel instructed, however he was merely biding his time. The once-beaten British champion stepped up his offense in Spherical 5 and instantly discovered a house for his counter proper hand, which landed as a straight punch and an uppercut with regularity for the remainder of the combat. Bentley outworked Alimkhanuly in Rounds 6, 7 and eight, inflicting an actual sense of urgency within the favored fighter’s nook, which was headed up by hall-of-fame coach Buddy McGirt.
Alimkhanuly dug deep down the stretch, going tit for tat with Bentley however incomes a slight edge (at the least with the official judges) along with his eye-catching one-two combos and straight lefts. The twelfth spherical was an enormous one for Alimkhanuly, who repeatedly shocked a still-game Bentley, who stood his floor in the course of the closing 30 seconds.
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“Something can occur within the ring,” Alimkhanuly stated throughout his post-fight interview. “He got here ready. He was one hundred pc, however I’m a champion and I fought all 12 rounds as a champion.
“I’m prepared for any champion, for unifications. I’m prepared.”
Is he actually? Is he prepared for the middleweights The Ring charges forward of him (Gennadiy Golovkin, Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade and Jaime Munguia), and even the battle-tested contenders rated under him, akin to Chris Eubank Jr. and Carlos Adames?
McGirt thinks so.
“Hear, he’s world champion, and I nonetheless say he’s the very best middleweight.,” stated the pinnacle coach. “I’m taking nothing away from [Bentley] as a result of he got here and I advised Janibek earlier than the combat, ‘He has every little thing to achieve and nothing to lose. So, he’s going to place it on the road.
“[Alimkhanuly] did what he needed to do to retain his title.”
Bentley did what he needed to do to earn the respect of U.S. boxing followers and media.
“That’s simply peoples’ opinions. It’s simply notion,” he stated when Kriegel requested him about being a determined underdog. “You felt I used to be scared, I believed I used to be within the combat.
“Within the fifth spherical, my coach advised me we weren’t in entrance and to choose up the tempo, so I picked up the tempo.”