WBO middleweight world champion Janibek "Qazaq Style" Alimkhanuly is ready to take out his frustrations on Steven Butler. After calls to unify against the division's other champions were not answered, Janibek will defend his world title against big-punching Canadian contender Butler on Saturday at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California.
In the co-feature, Australian fan-favorite Jason “Mayhem” Moloney will face Filipino contender Vincent Astrolabio for the vacant WBO bantamweight world title.
Janibek-Butler and Moloney-Astrolabio will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Janibek (13-0, 8 KOs), a 2016 Olympian from Zhilandy, Kazakhstan, rose the ranks in 2021 with knockout victories over former world champions Rob Brant and Hassan N'Dam. He picked up the WBO interim middleweight world title last May with a second-round blitzing of Danny Dignum and was elevated to world champion after Demetrius Andrade vacated his title.
Janibek made the first defense of his title in November, turning back the stiff challenge of British champion Denzel Bentley. Butler (32-3-1, 26 KOs) has won four straight bouts, all in Canada, since back-to-back defeats.
“I give all the credit to Steven Butler for accepting this fight. In a division full of ducks, Butler is a true warrior. I know he will come to fight, and we will give the fans a great show," Janibek said.
“Demetrius Andrade gave up his title to avoid fighting me. He ran eight pounds up the scale. He is the ultimate duck. Jaime Munguia turned down a shot at the title to fight weaker opposition. They are the two ducks, but I am the champion now.
“I called out the division’s other champions, and they didn’t answer. Butler answered the call. I am fighting Saturday to prove a point. I will knock out Butler in devastating fashion.
“The middleweight division runs through me now. I am here to stay. While the other champions continue not to fight, I will challenge the best and knock out everyone in my path.”