Janibek Alimkhanuly and Steven Butler have a site for their middleweight championship match May 13.
Promoter Top Rank announced Wednesday that their 12-round fight for Alimkhanuly’s WBO 160-pound title will headline a card at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California. ESPN will televise Alimkhanuly-Butler as the main event of a three-bout broadcast.
Neither Kazakhstan’s Alimkhanuly nor Canada’s Butler are from the Stockton area, but Top Rank has previously staged shows at this venue. Russian knockout artist Artur Beterbiev knocked out Radivoje Kalajdzic in the fifth round of their IBF light heavyweight title fight in May 2019 at Stockton Arena.
Like Beterbiev, Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8 KOs) is heavily favored to beat Butler (32-3-1, 26 KOs). The 29-year-old Alimkhanuly, a southpaw who wants higher-profile fights, will make an optional defense of his WBO belt against Montreal’s Butler, who is ranked sixth by the WBO.
ESPN’s co-feature May 13 is a 12-round WBO bantamweight championship bout between Jason Moloney and Vincent Astrolabio. Australia’s Moloney (25-2, 19 KOs), who is ranked number one by the WBO in the 118-pound division, will face the Philippines’ Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KOs), the WBO’s second-ranked contender, for its vacant bantamweight title.
Japan’s Naoya Inoue was boxing’s undisputed bantamweight champion, but he gave up his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO belts to move up to the 122-pound division. Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) was supposed to challenge unbeaten WBC/WBO champ Stephen Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) on May 7, but he suffered a knee injury while training that caused their bout to be postponed until July 25 at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
Philadelphia’s Fulton and Inoue were supposed to meet May 7 at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan, Inoue’s hometown. The postponement necessitated a venue change as well.
Top Rank’s May 13 card also will include a fight that will feature Stockton native Gabe Flores (21-2, 7 KOs) in a lightweight bout against an opponent to be determined. Other fighters from Stockton are expected to compete on the undercard as well.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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