Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) continued his WBA light heavyweight title reign with a wide unanimous decision against determined challenger and fellow countryman Umar Salamov.

It was the eighth defense of the WBA title if the black belt lineage is dated back to Bivol's first defense of the regular belt against Trent Broadhurst in November 2017.

The fight, which had already been the main event of a huge night of boxing, promoted by the RCC Boxing Promotions at the Uralets Cultural and Entertainment Center in Ekaterinburg, Russia, got an additional booster and also additional pressure from fight fans, when the co-main event between Magomed Kurbanov and Patrick Teixeira was called off due to Kurbanov's unexpected health issues.

Dmitry Bivol's appearance was also the first in a three-fight agreement, accommodated between the World of Boxing, a long-time promoter and supporter of Bivol's career led by Andrey Ryabinskiy, and the RCC Boxing Promotions, a Ural stalwart of Russian prizefighting led by business tycoon Igor Altushkin and acclaimed local promoter German Titov.

The light heavyweight landscape remains predominantly Russian, with the WBC and IBF titles belonging to the other Russian champion Artur Beterbiev, while WBO beltholder Joe Smith Jr. had already been soundly defeated by Bivol in 2019. Asked about his future plans after the fight, the champion replied with an old Russian proverb "Bad is that soldier who doesn't wish to become a general", adding, "I wish the ultimate glory - to unify the light heavyweight division". Bivol, who has been holding the piece or the full version of the black belt for five and a half years already, has a chance to do that in his Homeland, as two more domestic appearances are pre-planned for 2022.

TBRB #1 and The Ring #2 rated light heavyweight Bivol (now 19-0, 11 KOs) has seen action just once over the last two years, scoring a relatively close road decision over Craig Richards in May of 2021.

WBO #3 and WBA #10 Umar Salamov got to a jump start of his pro career while fighting in Ukraine in early 10's, then headed back to his homeland of the Chechen Republic in Russia, and then suffered a setback four and a half years ago being closely decisioned by Australian Olympian Damien Hooper. Salamov had put those memories long behind him, having scored seven consecutive wins after that, five of them coming by way of knockout.

Salamov, 27, was tense early on. He was visibly set to score with hard, damaging blows, and he was the one to score first with one of those, landing a right hand to the chin of Bivol. The champion answered with a couple of crisp jabs, then added several fast left hooks to remind the challenger of who was in control. Bivol's jab wasn't on full display in round one, and it was a close one, which could have been scored either way.

In the second, Bivol continued to deliver jabs. Salamov's height (three and a half inches) and reach (four inches) advantage meant that Bivol had to both box inside Umar's fire range and to stay at the very tip of it to avoid Salamov's crude but powerful punches. He did well according to the plan for the first two rounds but in round three Salamov opened up and had some moments too. Meanwhile, Bivol was at his usual best, easily tipping his opponent with a stiff jab and outmaneuvering him to avoid the return fire. Bivol, 30, was able to do that despite keeping his hands high and picking up Salamov's punches with his tight defense.

In the fourth, a huge right hand from Salamov penetrated Bivol's guard and got the champion's attention. Bivol retaliated with several huge combinations, tagging the head of Salamov. The challenger was forced to grab Bivol during one of the moments.

Round five and six were relatively quiet, Bivol slowly maximizing his advantages to the point Salamov looked a bit lost in the ring. That was Bivol's trademark mastery coupled with poise and concentration. As always, the champion didn't rush and didn't risk much against a bigger and presumably harder puncher. Yet, no one was disappointed with a skill set and pure boxing skills, showcased by the champion.

Salamov was urged early on step away from using one-two combinations and to throw three-four-five punches. He tried just that but his efforts were sporadic and inconsistent - thanks to the champion. Nevertheless, the Chechen boxer tried to gear up after the mid-point to a mild success. He landed several blows, but they were mostly neglected by Bivol or deflected by him.

Finally, in the ninth, Slamov managed to tag Bivol cleanly with one of his big shots and almost pinned the champion to the ropes. Angered by the outburst, Bivol unleashed a series of punches showing that inner beast under the beautiful veneer. Umar felt the assault but Bivol calmed down not to risk anything. The same situation has also been seen in round eleven.

Salamov, sensing he had no chances to win on points, tried to make one last surge at the beginning of the twelfth. He boxed solidly and did connect with a number of solid blows, making some wonder where all energy that had been before. One could argue it was his best single round of the fight but it was too little and certainly too late to produce any chance for the upset.

"He surprised me during the last round", said Bivol afterwards. "I thought he was mostly finished but he produced a huge effort and gave me some risky moments during the closing round. He is a great man and a great fighter, who put up a valiant effort".

Final scores were: 119-109 by Guiseppe Quartarone (Italy), 118-110 by Andrey Baliasov (Ukraine) and 118-109 by Joerg Milke (Germany) - all for the defending champion. Salamov drops down to 26-2, with 19 KOs, with a spirited effort and another lesson learned. Referee of the fight was Gustavo Padilla of Panama.

The event was marked by the presence of icons of the local boxing fraternity. Former unified cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev, former heavyweight titlist and Russia's first super heavyweight Olympic gold medalist Alexander Povetkin, ex-IBF light welterweight beltholder Eduard Troyanovskiy and crowd-pleaser and fan favorite Ruslan Provodnikov (ex-WBO at 140 lbs) were ringside for the fight. Former IBF super flyweight beltholder Dmitry Kirillov assisted Bivol's head coach Gennady Mashyanov, and former WBC cruiserweight king Grigory Drozd was commentating on the fight on national TV.