In the third instalment of his October diaries from Las Vegas, boxing insider and king of the handwraps Russ Anber discusses blue chip middleweight prospect Janibek Alimkhanuly after another explosive performance from the Kazakh at the weekend with Anber in the corner.
Like Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko, who I also work with, Janibek Alimkhanuly is another fighter who is managed by Egis Klimas. I’d like to think that Egis knows me, and likes what I can do and what I bring to a corner and that’s why he lets me work with a bunch of his blue chip guys.
I’ve been in Janibek’s corner since his pro debut back in 2016 and I love the kid. The first time I saw him fight I could see he was full of piss and vinegar. You could tell he really wanted to impress.
Ever since I’ve started working with him, I’ve always tried to open his eyes up to the old school world of boxing. I remember saying to him early on: ‘Janibek, you’ve got to think of yourself as a guy who fights in black and white.’
He looked at me as if to say he didn’t know what I meant, so I explained: ‘You’ve got to go back and watch black and white footage of Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis and so on. Those are the fighters you’ve got to think about. Those are the fighters that will show you what it means to be a world champion.’
After Janibek won the WBO global belt and the WBC Continental Americas title I remember seeing him carry those belts around and I said to him: ‘Yeah, these belts are great for fighters of a certain level, but you do know there’s only one belt that matters for you and that’s the world title… Unless you don’t want to be world champion?’
I said that to him again on Saturday night after he demolished Gonzalo Gaston Corla in two rounds. That was a destructive performance, and a warning signal to the rest of the 160lbs division, because this kid has got everything you need. Most of all, he’s got the size and he’s got the power.
Of course, there’s still work to be done. Like a lot of Eastern European fighters who came up through the amateurs, Janibek needs to get more of a taste of what the pro ring is like. You can’t get away over 12 rounds with some things you can in the amateurs over three rounds. But with Buddy McGirt training him I think he’ll do that and he has all the tools to win a 160lbs title.
Bob Arum loves Janibek. He really does. And I really love the kid, too. He has the personality, he has the mental make-up, he is charismatic, calm and he loves what he does. You can’t ask for much more. He really is a coach’s dream. Such a pleasure to work with.
All in all, it was great to start this near two-week spell in the Top Rank Bubble in the winning corner and now all my attention turns to Lomachenko’s fight against Teofimo Lopez next Saturday.
As I understand it, Loma will be checking into the Bubble on Monday or Tuesday. It’ll be my 12th fight in Loma’s corner and could be the biggest test he has ever faced in the pros.
Most of the Top Rank guys have left the hotel now, but I’m still here waiting, hanging out, trying to stay isolated and in my room as much as I can and gear up for the big fight this weekend.
Russ Anber was talking to Luke G. Williams.
Main image: Alimkhanuly and Anber prepare for another win. Photo: Berick Sultan.