By Keith Idec
Brian Howard’s right hand was more effective for much of their fight, but Umar Salamov’s right hand ended their light heavyweight fight Friday night.
Russia’s Salamov dropped Howard with a devastating right hand early in the ninth round to beat him by knockout. Salamov’s victory was the first of three fights Showtime televised as part of the Claressa Shields-Hanna Gabriels card at Masonic Temple in Detroit.
The 24-year-old Salamov (21-1, 16 KOs) won his second straight fight since suffering his first loss last summer. Australia’s Damien Hooper (14-1, 9 KOs) edged Salamov on the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn undercard last July 2 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Before agreeing to face Salamov at the light heavyweight limit of 175 pounds, the 38-year-old Howard (13-2, 10 KOs) was a cruiserweight for his entire eight-year career.
Salamov drilled Howard with a solid right hand 25 seconds into the ninth round. Howard backed into a corner and Salamov hammered him with another crushing right that stiffened Howard’s legs and essentially left him out on his feet.
Howard fell to the canvas and couldn’t get up before the referee counted to 10. Their scheduled 10-rounder was stopped 53 seconds into the ninth round.
Howard finally began throwing his right hand regularly early in the eighth round and landed it several times.
Howard didn’t do much in the seventh round until he unloaded a counter right cross that landed clean with about 20 seconds remaining in it. That was about the only noteworthy punch Howard landed in several rounds.
Salamov remained the more active fighter during the fifth round. Howard was looking to land a hard right hand, but by then seemed tired and wasn’t throwing many punches.
Salamov connected with two hard right hands to Howard’s body during the fourth round.
Salamov seemed to be fully recovered in the third round from some trouble late in the second round. He was the aggressor throughout the third, yet didn’t land anything that seemed to hurt Howard.
Salamov landed a straight right hand as Howard leaned back a few seconds before the halfway point of the second round. About 40 seconds later, Howard buzzed Salamov with a flush right hand to the side of the head that forced Salamov to move away from him and hold.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.