ZHANIBEK Alimkhanuly successfully defended his world middleweight title in a two-round mismatch against Steven Butler in Stockton last night.

The Kazakh is evidently world-class and levels above competition like the Canadian and is in need of a worthy challenge next time.

Britain’s Denzel Bentley went the distance with the champion last November. Alimkhanuly was clearly focused on ensuring he wasn’t taken that far in his second title defence.

The opening round was a tentative one with Butler moving anti-clockwise and out of range from any attack. A few whistles quickly emanated from the crowd. Both men continued to offer little other than a counter right from the champion joined by a back hand later on. Two punches that would only make the highlight reel because of how brief the fight lasted.

Butler continued to put himself into a safe zone in the second. The yellow gloved Zhanibek began throwing more testing shots. A couple of uppercuts were a warm-up act before the crowd inside the Stockton Arena watched Butler go down from two short left hands. The 27-year-old returned to his feet but his chances of winning were already over.

Zhanibek continued with his productive against the unsteady looking Butler who slumped to the ground again but this was ruled no knockdown by referee Jack Reiss.

Butler had nothing to trouble his superior foe. The champion dipped into his vast skillset and brought out effective jabs and one-twos, which led to ‘Bang Bang’ being dropped for a second time. Ready to go again Butler told Reiss, “I’m good” but that was as far from the truth as it could get.

The ending came at 2.35 of the second round when Zhanibek unleashed more ‘Qazaq Style’ with snapping uppercuts before a short-left finished Butler off. This was the challenger’s fourth defeat whose record now moves to 32-4-1 (26).

The winner moved to 14-0 (9) and in the post-fight interview called for two marquee names to get in the ring with him.

“Champions and boxing superstars where are you? Let’s fight. I am the middleweight king. Let’s go. Top Rank, who is next?  Canelo and Charlo I am coming. I am ready for anybody, anytime, anywhere,” said the 30-year-old.

The difficulty that his promoter Top Rank will have is that no-one will want a piece of the Kazakh talent unless they are overpaid for the task. If that type of reward is not on offer then one fears that Zhanibek will continue facing the calibre of foes like Butler until there is a change in the division.