Korobov Handles Uzcategui on HBO Opener

In the TV opener on HBOs’ Boxing After Dark, Matt Korobov took on Jose Uzcategui in a showdown of undefeated middleweights, and Korobov won, but lost.

He could have made a case for himself as a foe for Gennady Golovkin, but he needed to finish with a fiery flurry, a blaze of nastiness. Didn’t go that way..He did score two knockdowns in the eighth, but the scrap landed in the laps of the judges. The scores read 97-91, 97-91, 96-92, for Korobov.

The scrap unfolded in Omaha, from the CenturyLink Center, and the response to Michael Buffer’s call was tepid.

Koro went 121-412 to 90-375 for the loser, as neither man was overly busy.

In the first, the Venezuelan (age 23, 16-175 on fight night; 22-0 entering) who has been fighting in Mexico showed long arms. The Russian Koro (age 30; 160-173 fight night; 23-0 entering) landed his lead left some, and started putting combos together. The left landed clean for the lefty and Uz stepped back in deference, with 15 seconds to go.

In the second, Koro’s jab popped, he moved smartly, and he had a better rhythm than the other guy. We saw a slice flowing on U’s left eye.

In the third, K took the round, but didn’t start pulling away, put more distance between him and U. Trainer Charles Mooney asked him after to dig to the body, good idea considering we’d seen none of that.

In the fourth, we heard from Jim Lampley that Koro said he’d like to be seeing Gennady Golovkin down the line. He’d need to get an exclamation point win to start that conversation…

In the fifth, to start off, we heard Lampley note that Korobov’s punch output dropped each round. A cut formed on K’s right eye, and Uz was having more luck landing. A butt, the ref said, caused the slice. The right hand was working for Uz, who woke up in this round, for certain.

In the sixth, K’s right hook landed clean to kick it off. Uz started pressing, hustling to get close to K, sensing maybe the foe was tiring.

In the seventh, down went Uz. It came from an overhand right. He was up at six. He went to the deck again, off a right hook. But the bomber grew tired, his arms and legs wearied, and Uz finished the round. In round eight, rights from Uz scored, and the crowd buzzed. A combo buzzed Korobov, and he was on the defensive a round after almost getting blitzed.

In the ninth, Koro scored a knockdown which was not called, from a body shot. Uz shoved the ref to get at Koro at the end of the round, knowing he needed a stoppage.

In the tenth, a right landed as Koro backed Uz to the ropes. Koro banged and stayed smart, so as not to get hit by a Hail Mary.

We’d go to the cards…



-brownsugar :

7 years ago I had expected Korobov to be where Golovkin is now. The once clean shaven prospect who preceded GGG with a highly publicized press release proclaiming him as the next best thing. I tried to follow his performances but managerial issues, injuries and a slew of bad performances that allowed journeymen to hear the final bell after a life and death struggle. Witnessing his repeated setbacks were too much to endure. I remember watching him getting almost pummeled into submission by a journeyman with a losing record after his gas tank went completely dry after two or three rounds. Roy Jones said it was psychological. And I think he may have been right. I've never seen a highly decorated former amateur gas out in the opening rounds of a fight. Korobov fought a sharply proficient fight last night. He displayed patience poise and power. He's not the total package but compared to what he looked like at the beginning of his career, Korobov is now a fit product, worthy of air time on HBO. Martinez is gone but a better middleweight has arrived. You won't see Quillin or Cotto asking for this guy. Korobov is a strong contender for the middleweight crown. Its good to see him finally reaching his potential.

-oubobcat :

Korobov was a very hot prospect some years ago. He was thought to be a big time puncher with skills. He got off to a hot start then had some very pedestrian performances and kind of got lost in shuffle there for awhile. He then recently rolled off some nice wins in impressive fashion and that's what helped him get this HBO date. I think the performance was okay. I say that because I think it was apparent early he was a different class of fighter than Uzcategui. Korobov fight cautiously taking what was given and was satisfied with doing that to get the win. Maybe it was a smart strategy, But to me, you are on HBO and making your debut nonetheless. There seemed to be an opportunity to put an exclamation mark on the performance. Korobov was clearly a different skill level than Uzcategui and could have let his hands go a little more while still being smart about it. Instead of landing two for example and getting out, maybe finish with a hook to the body. That said, he did win and did so in a way that won't have have any of the top Middleweights. And that might be good for his career because its more likely someone will step up and want to face him. I think a fight with Peter Quillin is a real possibility. Korobov is ranked #1 in the WBO and we could see a purse bid like scenario between a Top Rank fighter and Al Haymon fighter similar to Russell-Lomachenko. I have thought for awhile that Quillin was angling for Canelo. But win or lose to Lara, Canelo seems to be steered toward Miguel Cotto. I don't think he'd fight Quillin in the interim before that bout takes place. So Quillin is going to need to hold onto his belt and Haymon may have seen enough last night from Korobov that leads Haymon to believe his man could take him. So when the mandatory comes due (it should not be too long), I see them going thru with the purse bid. A Quillin-Korobov fight would be very interesting. I tend to favor Quillin right now but is a winnable fight for both men and would be a competitive entertaining Middleweight bout.

-StormCentre :

Korobov was a very good amateur and product of the Eastern Bloc amateur program. He's as tough as nails and has a little bit of Vassily Jirov in him (if you know what I mean). When Korobov first landed with Dan Birmingham, Dan was singing his praises and rightly so as he was doing very well training, sparring and running with most of Dan's guys - Winky Wright included. After Korobov split with Birmingham things went a little skewed for him, and he lost some of the finesse in his game. Hopefully he gets that back as the guy not only used to stand his own with GGG sparring, years ago - he could also, with a little more work, easily be one of the next middleweight champion belt/title holders.

-the Roast :

A 31 year old prospect? Poo or get off the pot man. Step up and fight somebody at the top.

-brownsugar :

I agree with all the above... I think Korobov is a better technician than Quillin and won't be susceptible to being easily caught with Quillins heavy punches. Three of Quillins most recent opponents don't add up to one Korobov. It would be great to see two full size middleweights compete instead of watching blown up welterweights and junior middleweights competing for the title.

-StormCentre :

A 31 year old prospect? Poo or get off the pot man. Step up and fight somebody at the top.
Yes, I kind of know what you mean Roast. But Matt (Matvey is his real name) Korobov really used to have that mystique about him like 3G does now. He even fought 3G in the amateurs and if my (old) memory serves me well, I believe he did alright. The main few reasons his career hasn’t moved along as fast as expected is due to the fact English is not his native tongue and managerial issues. Once Birmingham and him went their own ways Korobov found himself in the USA and not just really without a camp - he was without a home base. That’s a pretty tough gig to add to the already tough gig of coming over to America without a major contract, on the chance you may be able to earn a living out of being a professional head puncher. I have a few friends that sparred him before the Sydney 2000 Olympics, one in particular that fought the Russian Lebsiak (who was also a very, very tough Russian) and all reports are that Matvey Korobov is an animal with an appetite for blood that’s perhaps matched only by his power and inhuman capacity to take a decent shot. He used to have a style that was a lot more technique laden, but at the moment it looks like he’s still getting back into championship level fitness. He was quite a feared in the amateurs, and the type of guy that could compete at all but the very highest levels without really being in top condition. I have no doubt (particularly in top form) he would hold his own against Quillin or anyone that 3G has fought so far. But then what do I know? Last weekend I predicted Gamboa would remember to keep his hands up against Crawford, but after a squillion amateur fights and a considerable amount of professional match-ups, he still didn’t!!!

-StormCentre :

Oh forgot to say also - he pretty much easily outclassed Sergey Kovalev in the amateurs also; going into that fight with a cold or the flu.
->https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SecDsnsGPI Actually, here is a good future fight in the making for 3G. Korobov would not walk away from it that’s for sure.