Top Rank has added another 175-pound fighter to its stacked stable,
The promotional company announced 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 will likely face Russian countryman Maxim Vlasov in a semifinal world title elimination bout that was ordered earlier this year.
"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."
Salamov (25-1, 19 KOs), 25, who trains in Las Vegas, has won six fights in a row, including five by knockout. In his most recent clash, he destroyed 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.”
Salomov is trained by Barry, who is a Las Vegas-based trainer.
"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 ordered a four-man playoff to fill the vacancy. Salamov was ordered to face Vlasov (45-3, 25 KOs), 33. Former 168-pound 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 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. However, Ramirez (40-0, 26 KOs), 28, of Mexico, appears on his way out at Top Rank, and has rejected multiple offers to continue fighting with them. If he opts to leave the company, his slot in the eliminator will fall to Joe Smith Jr. (25-3, 20 KOs), 30, of Long Island,
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 Long Island, is coming off a split (should have been unanimous) decision over Jesse Hart in January.
Top Rank also promoted unified 175-pound world titleholder Artur Beterbiev and former titlist Oleksandr Gvozdyk.