IN a curious battle of southpaws the esteemed Zhanibek Alimkhanuly, 11-0 (7), takes on 30-year-old Danny Dignum over 12 middleweight rounds. Alimkhanuly, ranked number seven at middleweight by BN, is an Olympic quarter-finalist (2016) and winner of the Worlds in 2013 at amateur level. He fought twice last year, stopping both Rob Brant and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam in eight rounds. For Dignum, 30, it’s a big leap in class.

Boxing since he was nine years old, Dignum worked his way up on small hall MTK shows and admits that, in an ideal world, he’d have had more seasoning at a higher level. Dignum gets this chance for the vacant WBO ‘interim’ strap because of a high ranking that was gained while winning and defending that organisation’s European middleweight title. He is unranked by other sanctioning bodies. Boxing News ranked Danny eighth at middleweight in our latest annual British ratings.

The favourite started boxing at the age of six. His professional debut came against the very experienced Milton Núñez in 2016. All 11 of his rivals had winning records; only the last five Dignum opponents can claim the same. Regardless, Dignum is a quality fighter in his own right. He’s impressed at domestic and European level, beating the likes of Conrad Cummings and Alfredo Meli, but was held to a draw by Andrey Sirotkin in April 2021. Since then, in February this year, he stopped Grant Dennis in six rounds.

The Brit insists he’s had a terrific training camp and he’s being overlooked. The 6ft 1ins Basildon man will have a two-inch advantage in height but the difference in experience and schooling should trump that. Dignum’s defence, particularly as he walks in, has seen him tagged regularly and Alimkhanuly is adept at picking off his foes with his lead hand. Dignum is determined, explosive and has a terrific engine but the smart money has to be on the Kazak, who is superb on the inside with chopping hooks and uppercuts, to win this one via stoppage.

The bout is set for Resorts World Las Vegas and is promoted by Top Rank.