The next fight for Janibek Alimkhanuly will either be a first shot at the full WBO middleweight title or his first official defense of the belt.
A destructive second-round knockout of England’s Danny Dignum saw Kazakhstan’s Alimkhanuly emerge as the interim WBO middleweight titlist this past Saturday at Resorts World Las Vegas. Days before the fight, both fighters were notified by the WBO to confirm that the winner would be next in line for full WBO titlist Demetrius Andrade (31-0, 19KOs), who previously sought an interim super middleweight title but is now on the hook for a mandatory defense which must take place no later than November 17, or 180 days from last Saturday’s Alimkhanuly-Dignum clash.
“[T]he WBO Middleweight Champion has up to 180-days after the [J]anibek/Dignum bout to be medically and physically ready, willing, and able to fight the winner of the [J]anibek/Dignum bout,” Luis Batista-Salas, chairman of the WBO Championship Committee noted in an official letter to Top Rank, Matchroom Boxing and the management teams for Andrade, Alimkhanuly and Dignum, a copy of which was obtained by BoxingScene.com.
The title consolidation fight is expected to be ordered 60 days after Alimkhanuly-Dignum, which places the call on or around July 20. From there, Andrade and Alimkhanuly (12-0, 8KOs) will have 30 days to work out terms before a purse bid hearing is ordered to determine promotional rights.
The two sides have already been down this road.
The fight was formally ordered last November 30, less than two weeks after both fighters posted knockout wins one night apart. Andrade stopped Ireland’s Jason Quigley in the second round of a November 19 DAZN headliner in Manchester, New Hampshire, registering his fifth title defense. Alimkhanuly stopped former secondary WBA middleweight Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam in the eighth round of an ESPN Pay-Per-View undercard bout from Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas last November 20, with manager Egis Klimas immediately calling for a title fight.
Negotiations went nowhere, with Andrade and Matchroom spending more time trying to secure an interim super middleweight title fight with England’s Zach Parker (22-0, 16KOs) than working out terms with Alimkhanuly. A purse bid hearing to determine promotional rights was postponed four times and canceled outright once the WBO agreed to sanction interim title fights at super middleweight and middleweight.
Andrade-Parker was approved but with the two sides unable to reach an agreement. The fight went to purse bid which was won by Queensberry Promotions, Parker’s promoter who sought to stage the event at Pride Park in Parker’s hometown of Derby, England.
Andrade was forced to withdraw from the event due to a shoulder injury requiring surgery. Proof of injury was submitted to the WBO, who was informed that the unbeaten southpaw will be out of the ring until at least September. The rehabilitation period likely ruins any chance of rescheduling a Parker fight, at least not without having to abandon his middleweight title reign outright.
“[I]f the WBO Middleweight Champion is not medically and physically ready, willing, and able to fight within the term provided herein, the WBO Middleweight Championship will be declared “Vacant” “Ipso Facto,” noted Batista-Salas. “The WBO World Championship Committee shall recommend to the WBO Ratings Committee that the WBO Middleweight Participant be rated at the number one (1) position in the Middleweight Ratings. Consequently, the WBO Interim Middleweight Champion will automatically be elevated to “Full Champion” status.”
Andrade has held the WBO title since a points win over Walter Kautondokwa in their October 2018 vacant title fight in Boston. Kautondokwa was a late replacement for then-unbeaten WBO middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders, who was forced to give up the belt after testing positive for Oxilofrine during random pre-fight drug testing, leading the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission to deny Saunders a license thus leaving him unable to honor his mandatory title defense.
In the event Alimkhanuly is advanced to full WBO titlist, a decision will then be made whether he is afforded an optional defense or if the unbeaten Kazakh fighter will have to face the next highest ranked available contender.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox