Janibek Alimkhanuly took notice of the WBO’s new number one contender for his middleweight title.
The unbeaten, strong southpaw from Kazakhstan issued a challenge Friday to Chris Eubank on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, regarding a potential fight with the British contender.
“Now Chris Eubank is number one in the WBO [ratings],” Alimkhanuly wrote. “I’ll knock him out in the first round with my eyes closed. He knows it. If he agrees to fight me, this fight will have to happen in Vegas!”
Liam Smith was the WBO’s number two contender for Alimkhanuly’s championship in its August ratings, one spot below inactive former IBF/IBO/WBA champ Gennadiy Golovkin.
Eubank (33-3, 24 KOs) dominated Smith in their rematch September 2. His impressive victory over Smith (33-4-1, 20 KOs) in their second clash enabled Eubank to move up 10 spots, from 11th to number one, in the WBO’s new rankings and into position to challenge Alimkhanuly at some point in 2024.
The 41-year-old Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 KOs) is now ranked fourth in the 160-pound division by the WBO.
England’s Eubank is also a draw in his home country, whereas Alimkhanuly isn’t a proven ticket-seller in the United States, despite his contention that their fight would “have to happen in Vegas!”
Eubank beat Smith by 10th-round technical knockout after sending Smith to the canvas once apiece in the fourth and 10th rounds of their scheduled 12-round bout at AO Arena in Manchester, England. Smith surprisingly stopped Eubank in the fourth round of their first fight, which took place January 21 at AO Arena.
Eubank, 34, hadn’t been down during a professional career that began in November 2011 before Smith dropped him twice in the fourth round of their initial meeting.
Alimkhanuly, meanwhile, is scheduled to battle newly crowned IBF middleweight champ Vincenzo Gualtieri in a 12-round, 160-pound title unification fight October 14. ESPN will televise the Alimkhanuly-Gualtieri fight from Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas, just outside of Houston.
The 30-year-old Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9 KOs) figures to have an easier time against Gualtieri (21-0-1, 7 KOs) than he would if he battles Eubank. DraftKings has made Alimkhanuly a 10-1 favorite to defeat Gualtieri, who beat Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao by unanimous decision in a 12-round fight for one of the middleweight titles Golovkin gave up.
Gualtieri knocked Falcao (30-1, 20 KOs) to the canvas once in the second round and again in the 10th round July 1 in Wuppertal, Germany, Gualtieri’s hometown. Gualtieri won by big margins on all three scorecards – 117-109, 116-110 and 116-110.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.