Light Heavyweight prospects Umar Salamov (20-1, 15 KOs) and Brian Howard (13-1, 10 KOs) will meet in a 10-round matchup that will open the Showtime Boxing: Special Edition tripleheader Friday, June 22 live from Masonic Temple in Detroit.
In the main event, unified champions from different divisions will meet in the middle. Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Unified Super Middleweight World Champion Claressa Shields will face Unified Jr. Middleweight World Champion Hanna Gabriels for the vacant IBF and WBA Middleweight World Championships. Both fighters have a lot at stake when they meet as Shields will look to become a two-division champion and Gabriels will seek to win titles on a third weight class. In the co-feature bout, women’s unified WBC and WBO Middleweight World Champion Christina Hammer will defend against former world champion Tori Nelson as all four women’s middleweight world titles will be at stake.
Salamov, of Alkhan-Kala, Russia, will be making his United States debut and is currently in training at Kronk Gym in Detroit with famed Javan “Sugar” Hill Steward. In his six-year career, the 23-year-old has already won the IBO Youth and World Light Heavyweight, WBO Youth World, European and International, and the IBF East/West Europe Light Heavyweight Championships.
Howard of Bartow Fla., currently resides in Loganville, Ga., outside of Atlanta. He started boxing 12 years ago at the age of 26, after playing three years in minor league football for the Polk County War Eagles. Despite being 38, Howard has shown natural talent and has knocked out previously undefeated fighters in two of his last three appearances.
“I waited a long time to make my U.S. debut and I am thrilled that it’s going to be on SHOWTIME,” said Salamov. “Training at the Kronk Gym in Detroit has been a phenomenal experience. I look forward to putting my skills and experience together to make a powerful statement. Howard is an accomplished and skilled boxer. I am coming in ready and know that it will be an exciting fight for the fans at Masonic Temple. This is my opportunity to show that I belong at the top of the light heavyweight division.”
Howard is also excited to be making his SHOWTIME debut. “It’s one of the opportunities that every fighter hopes to get,” he said. “I want to thank team Salamov for giving me the chance to take part in this event. I look forward to future opportunities and putting on a great show on fight night. I know he’s a champion, which I respect. He’s a skilled fighter who handles himself well in the ring, but I predict I will get him out of there between the fifth and 10th round.”
“I believe Umar has the skills, experience and hunger to be the best light heavyweight in the world,” said event promoter Dmitriy Salita of Salita Promotions. “Umar will have a chance to prove a point against a big puncher and spoiler in Brian Howard. It will be an exciting fight with both fighters needing a win to get into world title contention.”
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by Salita Promotions, are available at Ticketmaster.com or at the Masonic Temple Box Office at (313) 832-7100. VIP tickets are priced at $300, ringside tickets at $125, and remaining tickets at $75, $50 and $35.