Steven Butler admitted that he didn’t know much about Janibek Alimkhanuly prior to being offered the opportunity to challenge for his WBO middleweight title.
Once he became familiar, Butler sensed there was a reason why the unbeaten Kazakhstani was viewed as the division’s boogeyman. He also figured there was a better version that exists than the one who struggled at times in a twelve-round win over England’s Denzel Bentley last November.
“I think Janbek's last fight wasn't the best performance of his career,” Butler suggested to BoxingScene.com. “But I’m ready for his best on May 13.
“We don’t prepare for the worst version of anyone. I don’t think about a fighter like that, I am always ready for their best.”
Butler (32-3-1, 26KOs) is curious if he is viewed in the same light by the unbeaten titlist ahead of their ESPN-televised main event this Saturday (10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT) from the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California. The 26-year-old Montreal native has won four straight since suffering back-to-back defeats, including a fifth-round stoppage to Japan’s Ryota Murata in a failed WBA ‘Regular’ middleweight title bid.
Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8KOs) claimed the interim WBO title in a second-round knockout of Danny Dignum last May 21 in Las Vegas. It was the fourth of five straight appearances in Vegas, including his last fight by which time he was upgraded to full WBO titleholder. The 30-year-old southpaw looked ordinary in a points victory over Bentley.
It doesn’t change the manner in which Alimkhanuly tore through the previously unbeaten Dignum as well as in back-to-back knockout wins over former secondary titleholders Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and Rob Brant.
“We’ve seen film of his better performances,” Butler noted. “That’s the version we are prepared for, just like he needs to be prepared for my best. I’ve had plenty of notice. It’s been at least eight weeks since we knew that we were getting this fight.
“I’ve had enough time to prepare and be one hundred percent. There will be no excuses.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox