Top Rank, already loaded with top fighters in the light heavyweight division, has added another 175-pounder to its stable, announcing on Tuesday that it has signed contender Umar Salamov to a multi-fight promotional agreement.
Salamov is due to make his Top Rank debut on a date to be determined in the early summer, when he likely will face Russian countryman Maxim Vlasov in a semifinal world title elimination bout that was ordered on Jan. 20.
“Umar is a gentle giant of a young man, an excellent fighter who has only begun to tap his immense potential,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. “With (trainer) Kevin Barry in his corner, he is in great hands. The light heavyweight division is on fire and Umar is ready to add his name to the championship mix.”
Light heavyweight contender Umar Salamov, right, believes signing with Top Rank boosts his world title aspirations. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
Salamov (25-1, 19 KOs), 25, who is based in Las Vegas, has won six fights in a row, five by knockout. In his most recent bout, he stopped Emmanuel Danso in the third round in his hometown of Grozny, Russia.
“Now approaching the biggest time in my career, I am excited and very pleased to be signing with the world’s top boxing promoter, Mr. Bob Arum and Top Rank,” Salamov said. “I am confident that I now have the right team to take me all the way to a world championship. This opportunity is huge, and I plan on making the most of it.”
Salamov is trained by the well-known trainer Kevin Barry at his gym in Henderson, Nevada.
“At 25 years old, Salamov is a tremendous talent. At 6-foot-3½, he is a huge 175-pounder,” said Barry, who also trains former heavyweight world titlist Joseph Parker, among others. “His power and unorthodox style make him a difficult and dangerous challenge for any of the top light heavyweights. This is a very proud Chechen from a long line of battle-hardened fighters.”
After Canelo Alvarez vacated the WBO light heavyweight world title in December, the sanctioning organization in January ordered a four-man box-off to fill the vacancy. Salamov was ordered to face Vlasov (45-3, 25 KOs), 33, and former super middleweight world titlist Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, who outpointed Vlasov in a 10-rounder in 2015, was ordered to fight former light heavyweight world titlist Eleider “Storm” Alvarez with the winners to meet each other for the vacant world title.
While Top Rank aims to make a deal for the Salamov-Vlasov bout, the Ramirez-Alvarez eliminator is unlikely to come off.
Last Thursday, Top Rank won the purse bid in Las Vegas to gain promotional rights to the fight. It was the only bidder at $350,000. Ramirez, who is promoted by Top Rank, is entitled to 50 percent ($150,000) but is not taking the fight. He has been on the outs with the company, which has offered him seven-figure purses for fights but the offers were turned down.
With Ramirez (40-0, 26 KOs), 28, of Mexico, missing the deadline to notify the WBO that he would abide by the results of the purse bid, the slot in the eliminator will fall to Joe Smith, who, like Eleider Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs), 35, of Montreal, is co-promoted by Top Rank.
Former world title challenger Smith (25-3, 20 KOs), 30, from New York’s Long Island, is coming off a split decision over contender Jesse Hart on Jan. 11, after which Arum and Smith co-promoter Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing both said they hoped to make a fight between Smith and Alvarez.
Top Rank also promotes unified light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev, former champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk.