By: Sean Cross
Undefeated WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkanuli put his title belt on the line Saturday night at the Vegas Palms Casino Resort. 12-0 Alimkanuli was looking to impress, saying other champions were not interested in stepping into the ring with him. The Kazakh native would soon have to get past 17-1-1 Denzel Bentley if his chances of getting a big fight stopped. The Alimkanuli-Bentley fight was scheduled for 12 championship rounds.
Alimkanuli first worked behind a southpaw jab. Bentley tried to maintain range and land jabs of his own in the second, but didn’t have much success. Alimkanuli, on the other hand, was clearly looking for a way to land a power blow on his opponent. In the third, the Kazakh fighter began to land more effectively on his opponent. Bentley’s problem was simple – if he wanted to be more active, he would leave himself open to Alimkanuli’s powerful shots.
It was worth wondering in the fourth round if Bentley could survive until the final bell. While he wasn’t hurting badly, he was definitely taking a few heavy shots, though he wasn’t sending anything back. With that being said, Bentley was able to land some nice punches of his own in the fifth. The sixth saw Alimkanuli produce plenty of looks as he continued to look for athleticism to attack behind his jab. A confused Alimkanuli managed to land effectively in the seventh, while Bentley tried to employ an effective attack.
The eighth was a tough round to judge, as each man kept his time at a fast pace. “We’ve got to get this guy back,” veteran coach Buddy McGirt told Alimkanuli between rounds. Why Alimkanuli avoided bodywork in the high-octane ninth as well as the previous eight rounds was a mystery. Sure enough, Bentley piled on the tenth shot. It was the final round where Alimkanuli opted for Bentley from the region. But Bentley has always been a contender.
In the 12th and final lap, Alimkanuli Bentley made sure to hit hard to take the win. Bentley stayed on his feet, but didn’t do enough to win the round, although he certainly tried. Hurt and exhausted, Bentley spent the last round avoiding the man, then bravely confronted Alimkanuli. But Bentley’s face was showing signs of a terrible beating. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t much of a surprise when Alimkanuli was given a unanimous decision victory by the ring judges.