By Sean Crose
Janibek Alimkhanuly, undefeated WBO Middleweight champion, took his title to the line Saturday night at Palms Casino Resort in Vegas. The 12-0 Alimkhanuly was looking to impress, as he had indicated other champions weren’t eager to get in the ring with him. If the Kazakh native was to have a chance at a big fight, he would need to overcome Denzel Bentley (17-1-1). The Alimkhanuly – Bentley bout was scheduled to take place in 12 championship rounds.
Alimkhanuly worked behind the southpaw jab in his first. Bentley tried to maintain range and flick a jab of his own in the second, but wasn’t able to find much success. Alimkhanuly was looking for a way of taking out his opponent. In the third, it was clear that the Kazakh warrior was beginning a successful landing on the challenger. Bentley’s problem was simple – if he wished to be more active he would make himself open to the hard hitting Alimkhanuly’s shots.
It was worth asking if Bentley would make it to the final round. While he wasn’t being badly hurt, he was most certainly taking a few heavy shots without sending anything back in return. In the fifth, Bentley was able landing some nice punches. Alimkhanuly continued to offer a lot of looks and continue to search for sports to attack behind the jab in the sixth. The awkward Alimkhanuly managed to land in the seventh while Bentley attempted to use effective aggression.
The eighth round was hard to judge, as each fighter had his moments in what was still a fast-paced bout. “We gotta back this guy up,” veteran trainer Buddy McGirt said to Alimkhanuly in between rounds. It was not clear why Alimkhanuly did not do body work in the ninth round. Bentley was a consummate shot-taker in the tenth. Alimkhanuly took aim at Bentley in the penultimate round. Bentley, however, was still competitive at the end.
Alimkhanuly proved that he is simply too strong for Bentley to win the final round. Bentley stayed on his feet, but he didn’t do enough to win the round, although he certainly tried. Tired and exhausted, Bentley spent his final round trying to avoid his man, before confronting Alimkhanuly. Bentley’s face, however, was showing signs of a terrible beating. It was not surprising that Alimkhanuly won the unanimous decision victory thanks to the ringside judges.