Denzel Bentley simply smiled as Janibek Alimkhanuly intensely stared into his eyes Friday afternoon.
Alimkhanuly assured his optional challenger that he won’t have much to smile about Saturday night when they fight in Las Vegas. Kazakhstan’s Alimkhanuly predicted another knockout in a 12-round main event ESPN+ will stream.
Alimkhanuly (12-0, 8 KOs), who officially weighed 159.6 pounds, will make the first defense of the WBO middleweight title he won almost six months ago. The 29-year-old Alimkhanuly knocked out another British underdog, Danny Dignum (14-1-1, 8 KOs), in the second round May 21 at Resorts World Las Vegas to win the WBO interim middleweight title.
The WBO elevated Alimkhanuly from interim champ once former champion Demetrius Andrade decided to relinquish his title rather than making a mandated defense against Alimkhanuly.
London’s Bentley (17-1-1, 14 KOs), who came in at 159 pounds, is the ninth-ranked challenger for Alimkhanuly’s championship. The 27-year-old contender has won three straight fights since England’s Felix Cash (15-0, 10 KOs) stopped him in the third round of their British middleweight title bout in April 2021 at York Hall in London.
The official weights for their eight-bout undercard at Palms Casino Resort’s Pearl Concert Theater are listed below.
11 p.m. ET; 8 p.m. PT
Seniesa Estrada (22-0, 9 KOs), East Los Angeles, California, 103.8 pounds vs. Jazmin Gala Villarino (6-1-2, 1 KO), Buenos Aires, Argentina, 105 pounds, 10 rounds for Estrada’s WBA minimumweight title.
7:15 p.m. ET; 4:15 p.m. PT
Raymond Muratalla (15-0, 12 KOs), Fontana, California, 135 pounds vs. Miguel Contreras (12-1, 6 KOs), Bakersfield, California, 135.2 pounds, 8 rounds, lightweights.
Emiliano Vargas (1-0, 1 KO), Las Vegas, 133.8 pounds vs. Julio Martinez (1-0, 1 KO), South Bend, Indiana, 134 pounds, 4 rounds, lightweights.
Javier Martinez (7-0, 2 KOs), Milwaukee, 162.6 pounds vs. Marco Delgado (7-4, 5 KOs), Turlock, California, 162.6 pounds, 6 rounds, super middleweights.
Floyd Diaz (7-0, 2 KOs), Las Vegas, 122.4 pounds vs. Edgar Joe Cortes (9-6-1, 1 KO, 1 NC), Millville, New Jersey, 122.2 pounds, 6 rounds, junior featherweights.
Charlie Sheehy (4-0, 3 KOs), Brisbane, California, 135 pounds vs. Markus Bowes (2-0, 2 KOs), Roxboro, North Carolina, 135.6 pounds, 4 rounds, lightweights.
Karlos Balderas (13-1, 11 KOs), Santa Maria, California, 135.4 pounds vs. Esteban Sanchez (18-2, 8 KOs), Conroe, Texas, 135.2 pounds, 8 rounds, lightweights.
Antonio Mireles (5-0, 5 KOs), Des Moines, Iowa, 269.6 pounds vs. Eric Perry (5-0-1, 5 KOs), Pearland, Texas, 279.8 pounds, 6 rounds, heavyweights.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.