By Allan Fox: 2008 Russian Olympian Matt Korobov (28-1, 15 KOs) will be looking to make the most of his opportunity this weekend when he challenges interim WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) for his title on Premier Boxing Champions on FOX & FOX Deportes from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
This is a brave move on Charlo’s part to take a dangerous opponent like Korobov on one week’s notice. Charlo was supposed to be fighting former 2-time world title challenger Willie Monroe Jr., but he tested positive for a banned substance and was pulled from the fight. Korobov was available and stepped up to take it. There’s risk involved for Charlo, as he’s not had time to train for the Russian fighter’s style, and this is not the type of guy that you want to face on short notice. Unlike other fighters, Charlo didn’t have an in depth amateur back to get experience fighting Eastern European guys. Charlo has been a crash course in training for Eastern European fighters this week, and that might be enough time to prepare him fully for what he’s going to have to deal with on Saturday.
The younger and faster Charlo, 28, is not surprisingly the favorite to win this fight over the 35-year-old Korobov, but you never know. Charlo has no real experience against fighters from the type of amateur background that Korobov will be bringing to the table this Saturday night. Anything is possible in this fight. Charlo didn’t look great beating Austin Trout in 2016, and that’s the only fighter of note on his 10 resume.
Charlo’s other best wins have come against contenders like Hugo Centeno Jr., Cornelius Bundrage and Wilky Campfort. There’s not much there on Charlo’s resume to know how good he is. All we know is Charlo has been a pro for as long as Korobov is after starting his career out in 2008, and he’s not been given any world title shots for some reason. When you see fighters getting shots at world titles in their second year as a pro like Vasyl Lomachenko, and compare it to what Charlo and Korobov have had to go through to get their title shots, it makes you wonder if boxing is more about politics than it being a true sport.
“I have the skills to make this a great night for myself,” Korobov said. “I am going to bring everything I’ve got. I spent some time outside of the ring but the whole time I was preparing for a moment like this and I’m going to make it count.”
As a pro, Korobov’s problems in the past have been when he’s faded a little after the 6th round. We saw that in Korobov’s sixth round knockout loss to Andy Lee in 2014. Korobov was dominating in the first five rounds, but then he got a little sloppy in the sixth and was stopped by Lee. Korobov looked ragged against Derrick Findley, and won a closer than expected fight.
“This was such a big opportunity that I was immediately telling my team yes. This is what all my work has been leading to,” Korobov said about his fight against Charlo.
As long as Korobov still has the form that he showed in beating Jose Uzcategui by a one-sided 10 round in June 2014, he should have a good chance of beating Charlo on Saturday night. But if Korobov has deteriorated signicanty since that fight, then probably won’t last too long with Charlo on Saturday night. Charlo might be the best fighter in the middleweight division right now. Gennady Golovkin is getting up there in age at 36, and Saul Canelo Alvarez arguably lost both of his fights against GGG. Charlo is a lot more explosive than Canelo and GGG, and that makes him a problem for a ring-rusty fighter like Korobov. There are fighters that you can get away with in being rusty against, but Charlo isn’t one of them. Korobov is going to need to have his game on point on Saturday night if he doesn’t want to get knocked out by him.
This is a big second chance for Korobov, who some boxing have given up on already following his knockout loss to Andy Lee in 2014. Korobov has amazing talent, but his management hasn’t moved him the way that they’ve needed to following his knockout loss to Lee four years ago. In the four years since that fight, Korobov has fought just four times, beating Jonathan Batista, Josue Obando, Scott Sigmon and Brian Vera. That’s one fight a year For a fighter with the kind of talent that Korobov possesses, he was badly wasted in fighting just once a year.
Ideally, Korobov should have been back fighting for world titles within the next year if things had been handled in the correct way. Fighting just one time per year against journeyman level opposition has been a total waste of Korobov’s career. He could have gotten another world title shot a long time ago, and likely captured a title or two. With some of the weak champions that have held belts at 160 in the last two years like Miguel Cotto and Billy Joe Saunders, Korobov would have had an excellent chance of beating them.
A win for Korobov over Charlo on Saturday night would put him in the running for the comeback fighter of the year in 2018. Some boxing fans would probably discredit a win for Korobov by saying that Jermall lacked experience against quality fighters, and that he was pretty much a question mark in terms of true talent. Never the less, Korobov would be the first person to beat Charlo, and that would be a huge win for him. It would potentially set Korobov up for a big money fight against Canelo Alvarez if the Mexican fighter was feeling courageous and wanted to take him on. If nothing else, it might setup a fight between Korobov and Golovkin. The World Boxing Council are planning on ordering Charlo to face #1 WBC Golovkin in a final eliminator match after Saturday night. The winner of the Charlo vs. GGG fight would be the mandatory for Canelo, and supposedly the WBC would immediately order the fight. If Korobov beats Charlo, then it could be him that faces Golovkin in a final eliminator. However, Golovkin might not take the fight because he doesn’t need to fight in an eliminator to get a third fight with Canelo. GGG is already popular enough to get a trilogy fight without needing to work for it.
On the undercard this Saturday, WBC 154 pound champion Jermell Charlo defends against Tony Harrison in the main support. 2012 U.S Olympian Dominic Breazeale faces Negron.
Jermall Charlo 159.6 vs. Matt Korobov 159.25
Jermell Charlo 153.5 vs. Tony Harrison 153.25
Dominic Breazeale 256.5 vs. Carlos Negron 226