Light heavyweight contender Maxim Vlasov has signed with Top Rank in a deal announced Tuesday.
The signing means that Top Rank now has promotional ties to all four fighters slated to participate in the four-man box-off ordered by the WBO in January to fill the 175-pound world title Canelo Alvarez vacated in December.
“Maxim deserves the opportunity to compete at the highest level, and we are thrilled to add him to our deep light heavyweight stable,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. “His fight against [Umar] Salamov is one that I can’t wait to see.”
Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs), 33, of Russia, has won three fights in a row since a one-fight move up to the cruiserweight division, where he lost a decision to Krzysztof Glowacki in an interim world title bout in November 2018.
Vlasov is due to face 25-year-old countryman Salamov (25-1, 19 KOs), who is based in Las Vegas and signed with Top Rank late last month, this summer in a semifinal elimination bout on an ESPN platform.
The winner of the fight would move on to fight for the vacant world title against the winner of the other semifinal eliminator between former world titlist Eleider “Storm” Alvarez and former world title challenger Joe Smith Jr. Top Rank is aiming to put Alvarez-Smith on in June, with Salamov-Vlasov eyed for later in the summer.
“I want to thank Mr. Bob Arum for believing in me and signing me to a long-term promotional agreement,” Vlasov said. “I am very excited to be part of the four-way tournament for the vacant WBO light heavyweight world title. Having fought professionally for 15 years in three different weight divisions against some of the world’s top fighters, I now believe that I am at the top of my game. I am ready to prove to the light heavyweight division that I have what it takes to become the WBO world champion.”
Vlasov’s other two losses came by 10-round decisions: in 2011 to former light heavyweight world title challenger Isaac Chilemba, whom he knocked down twice, and in 2015 to Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, who went on to win a super middleweight world title.
“It is very exciting for Maxim and our team to have signed a promotional agreement with Top Rank. The backing and support from a world leader in the boxing industry will give Maxim the exposure globally that he needs to become a star,” said Oleg Bogdanov, Vlasov’s manager. “He is a real dark horse that has experience against world-class fighters in three weight classes.”
Mexico’s Ramirez (40-0, 26 KOs) was supposed to fight Eleider Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs), 35, of Montreal, in one of the semifinal eliminators, but he rejected a seven-figure offer from Top Rank and then declined to accept the terms of Top Rank’s $350,000 winning purse bid.
With Ramirez out of the box-off, Smith (25-3, 20 KOs), 30, from New York’s Long Island, a fighter Top Rank co-promotes with Star Boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia, was next in line. Top Rank and DeGuardia have not finalized the deal yet for the fight, but camps told ESPN on Tuesday that it will get done in the coming weeks.
In addition to promoting the four fighters in the box-off, Top Rank also promotes unified light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev, former world champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Ramirez and contender Jesse Hart, who lost a split decision to Smith on Jan. 11.