Janibek: ‘I am ready for any champion, for unifications’

The script underwent some last-minute changes. Janibek “Qazaq Style” Alimkhanuly was supposed to blow out Denzel Bentley, but the London native had other ideas. Alimkhanuly made the first defense of his WBO middleweight world title with a unanimous decision (116-112 2x and 118-110) over Bentley on Saturday evening at Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort.

Janibek (13-0, 8 KOs) controlled the early rounds, but Bentley (17-2-1, 14 KOs) turned the tide of the fight in the dramatic fifth round. He pushed Janibek to the ropes and laced the heavy favorite with right hands.

After a competitive 11th, Janibek nearly closed the show in the 12th, landing a series of straight lefts that wobbled Bentley.

Janibek said, “It’s boxing. Anything can happen in the ring. He came prepared. I respect my opponent because he was prepared. He was 100 percent, but I am a champion and I fought all 12 rounds as a champion.

“I am ready for any champion, for unifications. I am ready. Let’s fight.”

Bentley, a two-time British middleweight champion, believed the fifth round marked the fight’s turning point.

Bentley said, “I thought I was in the fight. In the fifth round, my coach told me we weren’t in front and to pick up the pace, so I picked up the pace.”

The rally proved too little, too late, as Janibek stemmed the changing tide and stamped his victory with a dramatic final round.

Estrada Retains World Title

After more than 300 days away from the ring, Seniesa “Super Bad” Estrada made her triumphant ring return, defending her WBA minimumweight world title with a one-sided decision over Argentina’s Jazmin Gala Villarino. All three judges had the bout a shutout, 100-90, and Estrada outlanded her foe, 210-121.

Estrada (23-0, 9 KOs) came back in fine form, keeping Villarino off balance by switching from orthodox to southpaw and back again. Villarino (6-2-2, 1 KO) hung tough and landed her share of clean shots, a phone booth affair that culminated in a toe-to-toe 10th round.

Estrada said, “It’s been an emotional week for me because it’s been 328 days since I’ve been in the ring. And I just want to tell all girls and all women in sports to always believe in yourself and always believe in what you can do and always go after what you want. I might’ve been slowed down, but I can’t be stopped. This is what I was born to do. This is the talent God has given me, and this is my destiny, and you cannot stop destiny.

“After 11 months, we were prepared for her to come in and win. I’m the best opponent she’s faced, and she wanted to defeat me. I was prepared to go 10 rounds or get the knockout.

“I shook the ring rust off, and I’m ready to go for unification fights and undisputed fights.”

In undercard action:

Lightweight: Emiliano Fernando Vargas (2-0, 2 KOs) KO 2 Julio Cesar Martinez (1-1, 1 KO), :47. The prodigy delivered. Vargas, the youngest son of former world champion Fernando Vargas, knocked out Martinez with a left hook in the second round, bringing the capacity crowd to its feet in his Top Rank debut. Vargas withstood an early charge from Martinez, who landed 11 of 45 punches in the opening round. In the second round, the vaunted Vargas left hook ended matters. The celebration began, and Vargas ran into the waiting arms of his father, who also serves as his head trainer.

Vargas said, “The dude was a sturdy guy. He came in there to fight. I know he prepared himself 140 percent, and I prepared myself 140 percent. I just had to listen to my corner, my father, keep on boxing, and the shots will open up. Just box beautifully.”

Lightweight: Raymond Muratalla (16-0, 13 KOs) TKO 6 Miguel Contreras (12-2-1, 6 KOs), 2:23. Muratalla, one of the sport’s rising lightweight contenders, used an educated right hand to grind down Contreras, a tough-nosed veteran from Bakersfield, California. After a right hand shook Contreras in the sixth, Muratalla unloaded. Contreras, defenseless in the blue corner, was saved from further damage.

Super Middleweight: Javier Martinez (8-0, 2 KOs) UD 6 Marco Antonio Delgado (7-5, 5 KOs), Scores: 60-54 and 59-55 2x. Martinez, a former U.S. amateur standout from Milwaukee, earned his fourth straight six-round decision with a workmanlike performance over the durable Delgado.

Junior Featherweight: Floyd Diaz (8-0, 3 KOs) TKO 4 Edgar Joel Cortes (9-7-1, 1 KO), 1:14. “Cash Flow” notched his second knockout in three fights, knocking Cortes down with a right hand in the fourth round. Cortes beat the count with time to spare, but referee Mike Ortega deemed Cortes unfit to continue and waved it off.

Lightweight: Charlie Sheehy (5-0, 4 KOs) TKO 1 Markus Bowes (2-1, 2 KOs), 1:37. Sheehy overwhelmed Bowes in 97 seconds, knocking down the North Carolina native with a right hand a little more than one minute into the opening stanza. Bowes rose to his feet on wobbly legs and Sheehy pounced to earn the stoppage.

Lightweight: Karlos Balderas (14-1, 12 KOs) TKO 8 Esteban Sanchez (18-3, 8 KOs), 1:02. Balderas, a 2016 U.S. Olympian, earned the most significant victory of his career in knocking out Sanchez, a native of Tijuana, Mexico. Balderas dropped Sanchez with a right hand in the opening round, and in the eighth, a right cross prompted referee Raul Caiz Jr. to stop the fight. Sanchez pushed Balderas in the middle rounds, but he was losing via shutout on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage.

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Janibek Alimkhanuly wants the top dogs at 160

Two world champions and the son of a modern boxing legend hit Las Vegas for a press conference two days away from a world title doubleheader at Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort.

In the main event, middleweight boogeyman Janibek “Qazaq Style” Alimkhanuly (12-0, 8 KOs) will defend his WBO world title against British champion Denzel Bentley (17-1-1, 14 KOs). This is the first title defense for Janibek, who was elevated from interim champion after Demetrius Andrade elected to move up in weight.

The co-feature sees one of women’s boxing’s biggest stars, Seniesa “Super Bad” Estrada (22-0, 9 KOs), defend her WBA minimumweight world title against Argentina’s Jazmin Gala Villarino (6-1-2, 1 KO). Estrada, who formerly held the WBO light flyweight crown, will make her Top Rank debut after signing a long-term pact with the promotional company earlier this year.

In a four-rounder, lightweight sensation Emiliano Vargas (1-0, 1 KO), the youngest fighting son of Fernando Vargas, will make his Top Rank debut. His father also serves as his head trainer.

At Thursday’s press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.

Janibek Alimkhanuly

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“Last time {I fought}, it was just the beginning of my knockout career. I hope God will {give me the strength} to do much better, and you can see all of my good punches.”

“When I came to America, it was already in our plans to bring a good team around us. Because of this team, I am a champion now.”

“I don’t know why nowadays champions don’t want to fight with the other champions. I don’t think they should be afraid. I am here. I am a champion now. I am here to fight the champions. Hopefully, Top Rank can organize a fight with another world champion next.”

Seniesa Estrada

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“I’ll be back in the ring after over 300 days. I’m so blessed to continue, and end, my career with Top Rank. I thank God, and I thank Bob Arum and Top Rank for giving me the opportunity to represent women’s boxing. They’ve done such a great job with Mikaela Mayer, and I’ve always noticed that and recognized that. I’m happy that now I can be back in the ring and show everybody what I’m about and continue to rack up world titles.”

“I don’t underestimate anybody that I step in the ring with. I know that this is her time to shine. I know she’s coming in to defeat me, and she’s coming in as the underdog. I know she’s training harder than she’s ever trained before, and I’m training harder than I’ve ever trained before because, now, I have a bigger and better platform. I know I still have a lot to prove. I know Argentineans are tough, but I have that Mexican blood and Mexican heart. I come from where fighter like Fernando Vargas came from and other great Mexicans. I’m going to show that Saturday night.”

“It’s very special because these last 11 months have been difficult for me staying out of the ring and not fighting. So, I felt like I was missing out on so much because I’m so competitive, and I want to show that I’m great. I know it means so much to my father and {head trainer} Dean {Campos}, who put so much time into me when women’s boxing was nowhere. Women’s boxing has had the most amazing year this year. Fast forward to now, I feel like I didn’t miss out on anything these past 11 months because I’m back at a better time in women’s boxing than ever. I’m just going to elevate women’s boxing so much more.”

Emiliano Vargas

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“God is the greatest. I want to thank Bob Arum personally for the taking the time and even considering signing me. It’s a blessing. Top Rank has had all the stars of boxing in history. You look back, it’s had Floyd Mayweather, it’s had Oscar {De La Hoya}. it’s had countless, countless world champions {and fighters} I look up to. It’s a blessing. I want to thank my management as well for looking over everything and making sure everything is right. We’re ready to put on a show November 12.”

“{My father} is everything I need him to be. A great father, especially with him not having a father… we have a beautiful dynamic. He’s everything I need him to be. He doesn’t really need to get on me. I know exactly what I need to do, and this camp has been phenomenal. I’ve had the opportunity to spar with Jorge Linares this entire camp. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to show the world that these Vargas’ can fight. We’re not just a last name. You’ll be surprised. Believe me, you’ll be surprised.”

Alimkhanuly-Bentley, Estrada-Villarino set for November 12 in Vegas

WBO middleweight world champion Janibek “Qazaq Style” Alimkhanuly, a southpaw power puncher from Kazakhstan, will make the first defense of his title against two-time British champion Denzel Bentley on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

In the co-feature, undefeated pound-for-pound queen Seniesa “Super Bad” Estrada will defend her WBA minimumweight world title against Jazmin Gala Villarino.

Janibek-Bentley, Estrada-Villarino, and undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+.

“Janibek is the top middleweight in the world, and this fight will be the start of a long and accomplished championship reign,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “I am thrilled to see Seniesa Estrada make her Top Rank debut. She is an exceptionally talented fighter and is poised to be a superstar in the sport for years to come.”

“Denzel Bentley is backing himself and completely believes he has got what it takes to win the WBO world middleweight championship from a formidable champion in Janibek Alimkhanuly,” said Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren. “It is a golden opportunity for Denzel to step up from being a respected British champion to starring on the world stage in Las Vegas.”

Janibek (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2016 Olympian from Zhilandy, Kazakhstan, took the express route to a world title. He fought in his first scheduled 10-rounder in his sixth pro fight, winning a pair of regional titles in a dominant showing over Cristian Olivas. Janibek’s last four bouts have been in Las Vegas, a quartet of knockouts that propelled him to the top of the middleweight heap. In 2021, he knocked out former world champions Rob Brant and Hassan N’Dam to earn a shot at the WBO interim middleweight title. Janibek knocked out Danny Dignum in two devastating rounds to earn a shot at then-champion Demetrius Andrade. Janibek was elevated to world champion after Andrade elected to move up in weight rather than defend his middleweight title.

“I give Denzel Bentley credit for accepting the challenge when so many fighters ran the other way,” Janibek said. “It is a great honor to defend my world title in Las Vegas at The Palms, and I will once again show the world what ‘Qazaq Style’ is about.”

Bentley (17-1-1, 14 KOs) makes his American debut following a recent run that saw him become king of the British middleweights for a second time. Last April, he suffered a stoppage loss to Felix Cash in a “Bubble” setting in front of limited spectators. Following a comeback victory over Sam Evans, he regained the British middleweight title with a 12-round split decision over the previously unbeaten Linus Udofia. “The Battersea Bomber” earned the shot at Janibek with a fourth-round TKO over Marcus Morrison last month. Bentley rebounded from being stunned in the opening round to bust up Morrison’s nose and open a cut over his right eye, forcing a corner stoppage. After perhaps his most dramatic victory, Bentley readies for the Las Vegas main event stage.

“It will be a good and exciting fight, and I think it is a fight I can win,” Bentley said. “So why not go out there and enjoy the theatrics of Las Vegas and come back with a world title? I genuinely believe I can beat him, and he is beatable. Everybody says he is scary, but I don’t see it. Maybe I am missing something. We will find out when we get in the ring.”

Estrada (22-0, 9 KOs), the latest fighting sensation from East Los Angeles, hopes to flash the two-handed power that has made her one of the sport’s must-see action stars. A two-weight world champion who has also won an interim world title at flyweight, Estrada returns from a nearly 11-month layoff to defend her minimumweight title for a second time. She won that title last March with one-sided decision over Anabel Ortiz, then captured the WBO light flyweight title less than four months later with a decision over Japan’s Tenaki Tsunami. Estrada moved back down to minimumweight last December and defended her title with a fourth-round stoppage over Maria Micheo Santizo. A women’s boxing pioneer who has been grinding in Southern California gyms since taking up the sport more than two decades ago, Estrada is set to resume her career with the backing of Top Rank and “The Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

Estrada said, “This is an exciting time for women’s boxing, and I am thrilled to be making my Top Rank on ESPN debut in Las Vegas against a worthy challenger in Villarino. I am entering the prime of my career and looking forward to unifying the championships in three weight classes. The newest chapter in my career begins November 12, and I can’t wait to get in the ring.”

Villarino (6-1-2, 1 KO) enters her first world title opportunity having not tasted defeat since her 2016 pro debut. Last November, she traveled to Colombia and knocked out Venezuelan former world title challenger Yenifer Leon via seventh-round TKO. Leon also was stopped in five rounds by Estrada back in 2019. Villarino followed up the Leon triumph in March with a unanimous decision over Judith Vivanco in Vivanco’s home country of Mexico. She now enters enemy territory for a third straight fight in hopes of riding her road warrior mentality to a world title.

“This is the opportunity I have been waiting for, to fight for a world title against a fellow warrior like Seniesa Estrada,” Villarino said. “I am thankful to Top Rank for the opportunity, and I am coming to Las Vegas to shock the boxing world. On November 12, a new champion will be crowned.”

In undercard action, undefeated lightweight prospect Raymond “Danger” Muratalla (15-0, 12 KOs) will fight in an eight-rounder. Muratalla is coming off a one-sided decision over Jair Valtierra.

Antonio “El Gigante” Mireles (5-0, 5 KOs), a 6’9 heavyweight, will fight in his first scheduled six-rounder. Mireles has three consecutive second-round knockouts after scoring a pair of first-round stoppages to start his career.

Junior welterweight Lindolfo Delgado (16-0, 13 KOs), who is coming off an epic decision victory over the previously undefeated Omar Aguilar in August, hopes to inch closer to title contention in an eight-rounder.

2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas (13-1, 11 KOs) looks to make it five wins in a row in an eight-round lightweight bout.

Former U.S. amateur superstar Javier “Milwaukee Made” Martinez (7-0, 2 KOs) returns in a six-rounder at super middleweight.

Lightweight Charlie Sheehy (4-0, 3 KOs), a fearsome puncher from the Bay Area, makes his fourth appearance of 2022 in a four-rounder.