NORTH HOLLYWOOD, California – Janibek Alimkhanuly’s career is caught in a precarious position. 

The unified middleweight champion and 2016 Olympian has well-rounded skills to compete on the world level, is backed by one of the sport’s biggest promoters in Top Rank and managers in Egis Klimas, and is showcased on primetime television on ESPN, headlining five fights in a row. 

But the 31-year-old Kazakh southpaw competes in boxing’s weakest division with little fanfare in scaled-down venues and doesn’t help with his marketability by not speaking English. Whether rightfully or wrongfully, Alimkhanuly is also constantly compared to fellow countryman, mentor, and former middleweight kingpin Gennadiy Golovkin, as many want to envision him following a similar path as Triple G once did, evolving from an Eastern European unknown into a heralded commodity. 

The WBO and IBF champion Alimkhanuly (15-0, 10 KOs) already has won 160-pound titles like Golovkin, but he’ll look to craft his career identity further when he takes on Andrei Mikhailovich (21-0, 13 KOs) at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. 

“I’m ready for the fight. I’m not expecting something special from Mikaelovich. He’s a good fighter and is undefeated. Still, I am ready,” Alimkhanuly told BoxingScene through an interpreter following a workout at the Brickhouse Boxing Club, the gym he trains out of in Los Angeles.

The local Kazakh community gathered for the workout to support Alimkhanuly, who aspires to become the undisputed middleweight champion and a global fan favorite.  

Despite stopping eight of his last nine opponents, Alimkhanuly’s dance partners thus far have not helped his cause to become a breakthrough star. 

Alimkhanuly’s world title reign has included middling opposition, including a sixth-round TKO win against Vincenzo Gualtieri in October, which added the IBF title to his collection. 

Before Gualtieri, Alimkhanuly ran through Steven Butler, Denzel Bentley and Danny Dignum. The little-known Mikhailovich – an Auckland native who has only fought in New Zealand and Australia – will only add to Alimkhanuly’s not-so-steep ledger.

According to DraftKings, Alimkhanuly is a -2500 betting favorite, and Mikhailovich is a +950 betting underdog. 

The betting lines would certainly be tighter if Alimkhanuly faced remaining 160-pound champions Carlos Adames (WBC) and Erislandy Lara (WBA), but potential bouts against the PBC-affiliated titlists appear unlikely for the time being. 

Active middleweight contenders with name cache are few and far between, but some of the best from the group include Chris Eubank Jr., Liam Smith, and Hamzah Sheeraz, all of whom are based in the United Kingdom, and Smith and Sheeraz both have fights scheduled in September. 

But even if Alimkhanuly were to beat any of the aforementioned foes, a lot more will be desired for him to be billed as the second coming of Triple G. 

“Of course, I think I can become a superstar like Golovkin in the United States,” said Alimkhanuly. “Golovkin and I are different. Golovkin fought ‘Mexican style,’ and I fight ‘Kazakh style.’ People compare us because we are from the same country, but he’s like an older brother to me.” 

Another older brother figure in Alimkhanuly’s corner is trainer Brian Viloria. Viloria is a former 112- and 115-pound champion and a 17-year professional fighter who retired in 2018 with 38 wins (23 KOs) and six losses. “The Hawaiian Punch” is now working with Alimkhanuly for their second fight. 

“Janibek is already an elite fighter. There is not much I can change regarding his style,” said Viloria. “We’re trying to enhance certain things, like defense, movement, and picking his shots. I’m trying to take him on the same path as the great trainers Freddie Roach and Robert Garcia did for me.” 

Viloria doesn’t compare Alimkhanuly to Golovkin but validates his skills by juxtaposing his charge with another legendary fighter. 

“If I had to compare him, he’s more like Manny Pacquiao of the middleweight division,” said Viloria. “He’s quick on his feet, goes in and out, has a great jab, 1-2-1s, 1-2-3s, his uppercuts are amazing. He knows where to place his shots; his distance management is top-tier. 

“He’s in a place right now where he’s a high-risk, low-reward fighter. He just needs a larger fan base, so it becomes enticing for these top-level guys to face him. He just has to beat the guys they put in front of him in a magnificent fashion. If he does that, the world is his oyster. He’s going to be successful with whatever he decides to do.” 

Alimkhanuly’s grandiose plans and path will continue with what could be perceived as a proverbial pitstop in Mikaelovich, as he anticipates fights with Adames and Lara happening next. 

“I’m ready to do anything to get the four titles and become undisputed champion,” said Alimkhanuly. 

“We’re working hard and doing everything to become famous worldwide. I need to fight with the big names to get there. I plan on fighting top stars like Canelo Alvarez and David Benavidez in the future.” 

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at] or via

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