Janibek Alimkhanuly and Jaime Munguia will once again go their separate ways.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the previously ordered WBO middleweight title fight is no longer in play, as Munguia’s team informed the WBO of their decision to head in another direction. The decision comes days after the sanctioning body assigned a 15-day negotiation period for the two sides to work out terms.
It took less than a week for Munguja’s side to opt for other opportunities in 2023.
“We can confirm that Jaime Munguia (through co-promoters Zanfer Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions) declined to proceed with his mandatory title fight with our middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly,” Gustavo Oliveiri, lead counsel for WBO, confirmed to BoxingScene.com. “We have notified the representatives for Janibek of their decision.”
The development means that Tijuana’s Munguia (41-0, 33KOs) will no longer retain his mandatory challenger status with the WBO. A decision was not yet made as this goes to publish whether Alikmhanuly will be instructed to face the next available contender or if the unbeaten Kazakh boxer is free to make a voluntary title defense.
What it does mean is another scenario where the reigning WBO middleweight titlist is left without a fight against the opponent of his choice.
“Who’s next,” Alimkhanuly questioned after being informed of Munguia’s decision. “Now what? Do you still doubt that I'm a middleweight nightmare? No, I'm not a nightmare anymore. I am the middleweight king!
“Where are the champions? Where are the stars? Your king is looking for you!”
Interestingly, Munguia is also looking at the other middleweight titlists—just not the one his team has now twice declined to face.
Munguia previously told BoxingScene.com of his desire to pursue big fights with WBC middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22KOs) and unified WBA/IBF champ Gennadiy Golovkin.
The latter option seems highly unlikely, as Golovkin (42-2-1, 37KOs) is saddled with two mandatory title defenses, including ongoing negotiations for IBF number one ranked Esquiva Falcao. The winner will likely have to next face WBA mandatory and secondary titlist Erislandy Lara, a fight that was previously ordered but put on hold when the sanctioning bodies agreed to allow Falcao to go first in the rotation.
Munguia previously had an opportunity to face Charlo, as he was—and still remains—the number one contender. A deal was seemingly in place for a June 18 Showtime headliner in Charlo’s hometown of Houston, Texas, only for talks to collapse at the eleventh hour upon the insistence of Zanfer and Golden Boy for DAZN—with whom Golden Boy as a long-term output deal—to be involved in the event.
Charlo has not fought since then, as a back injury prevented him from proceeding with a June 18 voluntary defense versus Maciej Sulecki. A combination of out-of-ring issues and the lack of fourth-quarter dates for Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) has left him on the shelf, although the unbeaten two-division titlist insisted in a recent Instagram Live session of his intention to return to the ring next February.
It’s a wild card option for Munguia to land the assignment, though it will require a more successful negotiation period the second time around. Such was not the case with Alikmhanuly, as Munguia’s team also declined to enter talks for an ordered interim middleweight title fight earlier this year.
Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8KO) was originally due at the time to face then-WBO middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade (31-0, 19KOs), who instead pursued an opportunity at super middleweight. The 29-year-old Kazakh southpaw went on to face England’s Danny Dignum, whom he knocked out inside of two rounds on May 21 in Las Vegas.
A fight with Andrade was ordered for a second time, only for the undefeated two-division titlist from Providence to decline and ultimately vacate his title. Alimkhnauly’s reign was upgraded to full title status, having successfully lodged his first defense in a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over England’s Denzel Bentley in the main event of a November 12 ESPN+ telecast from Las Vegas, where his last five fights have taken place.
Munguia fought one week later, scoring a third-round knockout of overmatched Gonzalo Gaston Coria atop a November 19 DAZN telecast from Arena Astros in Guadalajara, Mexico.
After the fight, he reiterated his desire to face Charlo or Golovkin, interestingly not making any mention of Alimkhanuly. The WBO took care of that problem, ordering the fight less than 24 hours later—a move that has ultimately freed up the mandatory slot and presumably ends any chance of their paths crossing anytime soon.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox