Dmitry Bivol must be fairly sure he’s not getting that Canelo Alvarez payday next, as the WBA light heavyweight titleholder is now set to defend his belt against Umar Salamov on Dec. 11 in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Bivol (18-0, 11 KO) last fought on May 1 in Manchester, England, winning a decision over Craig Richards. His last two title defenses have been against guys considered, at best, fringe contenders, and while Salamov (26-1, 19 KO) isn’t exactly a consensus top five or 10 guy at 175 lbs, he’ll probably be seen as more dangerous coming in than Richards or Lenin Castillo were.
Salamov had been ordered for a shot at WBO titleholder Joe Smith Jr, and that fight was scheduled for October, but Smith tested positive for COVID and is now set to return in a defense against Callum Johnson in January. This date with Bivol answers the question of what happened to the Smith-Salamov idea, I suppose, because while this hasn’t been announced until now, Bivol and Salamov likely both knew it was coming more than a few weeks out from the fight date.
The fight will be Bivol’s first back in Russia since his 2017 win over Robert Berridge.
The Dec. 11 card will also feature junior middleweight Magomed Kurbanov taking on former titlist Patrick Teixeira, and Shavkat Rakhimov’s return against Rilwan Oladosu, among several other fights. No word yet on a U.S. outlet but something will likely come up.