Grozny, Russia - Umar Salamov was scheduled to warm himself up against a fighter who had lost his last two contests - one to a boxer with 2-0 record. Instead, Salamov found himself in a firefight with a well-matched opponent in Sergey Ekimov.
The local favorite barely won a split decision over ten rounds. No scores were announced in what was a very close and very competitive.
Ekimov, 35, was on a downslide coming in with decision losses to world-ranked opponents in Ali Izmaylov and Ricards Bolotnics. WBO #4 rated Salamov - quite oppositely - was riding a good streak of six consecutive wins, five of them by way of kayo. Bigger, taller Salamov immediately jumped in with a jab to open the contest. He was an aggressor throughout the whole fight.
Ekimov, sensing he was sporting a smaller frame, stayed on the outside, ducked low a bit to make himself an even smaller target. Salamov, 26, took the center of the ring, slowly stalking his opponent around but couldn't land anything serious.
Ekimov was making less offensive moves but he was rather successful with his sudden spurts on the inside, landing clean shots and making his opponent miss. The rounds were mostly identical, both fighters not changing their approach and applying it with mixed results.
All in all, Salamov landed and also missed arguably more punches. Those which landed produced a thudding sound but ultimately didn't rock Ekimov at all. The latter threw less and landed less but his punches were quite telling. He also showed better defensive mastery.
With a win Salamov improves his record to solid 26-1, 19 KOs. Ekimov is now 18-3, 9 KOs.