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Jermall Charlo faces Matt Korobov next Sat. LIVE on FOX

Matt Korobov

By Allan Fox: Matt Korobov will be dropping down from super middleweight to take on interim WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo next Saturday at a weight of 160 pounds as the replacement for Willie Monroe Jr., who tested positive for a banned substance, preventing him from taking the fight on December 22 on Premier Boxing Champions on FOX at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. RingTV is reporting that the 35-year-old Korobov (28-1, 14 KOs) has agreed to step in to face Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) on Saturday at middleweight.

Korobov is arguably a big improvement over Charlo’s original opponent Monroe. The 2008 Olympian Korobov was previously scheduled to fight in an eight-round match at 168 against journeyman Juan De Angel (21-9-1, 19 KOs) on the Charlo vs. Monroe Jr. undercard in an off-TV fight. But instead of taking that fight, Korobov will slide into the main event spot to face the 28-year-old Charlo. While that sounds like a great opportunity for the Russian Korobov, it’s going to be awfully tough for him to make the weight with just five days to go.

Korobov fights at light heavyweight, and he was already dropping down seven pounds to fight at 168 against De Angel. Korobov will now need to lose an additional eight pounds by Friday to make weight for the Charlo fight. Is it possible? Yeah, but Korobov will very likely be weight drained for the fight given how much weight that he’ll have taken off to make the 160 lb limit. That’s 15 pounds lighter than the 175 lb weight class that Korobov fights at.

Hopefully there’s a backup plan in place in case Korobov is unable to make weight on Friday. If he comes in at 165 lbs at the weigh-in, does Charlo still take the fight or do they walk away and face someone else? Given what Korobov is going through to take this fight, it would be generous on Charlo and his management’s part to give the Russian fighter a 5 lb allowance so that he’s not risking his health in making weight. No one wants to see a brave fighter get hurt from making weight or end up so weakened from the process that he can’t make it an interesting fight.

World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman reported last Saturday night Willie Monroe Jr. had turned up with an adverse test result from his urine sample during his VADA test with one week to go for his fight against Jermall next Saturday on December 22. Sulaiman subsequently said the WBC would be making a determination on Monday to what would happen with Charlo’s fight on December 22, as well as Monroe’s situation. There was no word given by Sulaiman about what Monroe Jr. tested positive for in his adverse finding. Although Monroe still hasn’t officially been pulled from the fight, he’s no longer listed as Charlo’s opponent with Boxrec, and Korobov is now in his place.

Korobov easily defeated Jose Uzcategui by a 10 round unanimous decision in June 2014. However, in Korobov’s next fight, he was stopped by Andy Lee in the 6th round in December 2014 in a failed effort to capture the vacant World Boxing Organization middleweight title. Korobov dominated the first five rounds of the fight, but got careless in the 6th when he tried to exchange with Lee, and got caught with a big right hook that he never saw coming. Since the loss to Lee, Korobov’s career has lost momentum with him fighting irregularly against weak opposition exclusively. Korobov didn’t fight in 2015 or 2017. He’s won his last four fights in beating Brian Vera, Jonathan Batista, Josue Obando and Scott Sigmon. Those guys are well below Korobov’s talent level, and he should have been fighting high caliber opposition as early as his nex fight after his loss to Lee.

It’s admirable that Korobov is willing to step in to face Charlo on six days’ notice. Not a lot of fighters would be willing to take on someone as good as Charlo with just six days to go before the fight, but it’s not surprising that Korobov is willing to take that risk. His career has not panned out like many in the boxing world thought it would after he turned pro in 2008. For whatever reason, Korobov’s management kept him fighting lower level opposition far too long after he turned pro. Back then, the promoters weren’t moving former amateur stars as fast as they do now, so Korobov found himself facing weak opposition for the first five years of his career. Korobov should have been matched against good opposition from the second year of his career if not the first, and he clearly would have been better off. With Korobov’s long amateur career in Russia, he was already getting a late start on his pro career. That made it even more imperative that his management move him faster, but that didn’t happen unfortunately.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Korobov can take off the weight needed in the next five days for him to make weight for the Charlo fight. The question is what happens if Korobov fails to make weight? Is the fight canceled? Will Korobov have to pay a hefty weight fee if he comes in over the limit? If so, how it is beneficial for Korobov to take a risky fight like this on less than one week’s notice. Korobov is doing Charlo and his management a favor in stepping in to face him on short notice.

Since Korobov was originally scheduled to fight at 168, it’s going to be an extreme hardship for him to now have to take off an additional eight pounds within a week to make the 160 lb weigh-in limit this Friday. It would be disappointing if the Charlo-Korobov is canceled on Friday if Korobov misses the 160 lb weigh-in limit by a wide mark.

It won’t be surprising if Korobov does come in far above the 160 pound weigh-in limit, as he was originally targeting 168 for his fight against Juan De Angel for Saturday. That meant that Korobov was going to drain down to 168. Now he’s got to drain down an additional 8 pounds on top of that. Can it be done by Korobov? Maybe, but he’s likely going to be in terrible shape by fight time.

Former International Boxing Federation middleweight champion David Lemieux was hospitalized this past week after trying to lose weight to make the 160 lb. weigh-in limit for his fight against Tureano Johnson on Saturday on the Canelo vs. Rocky Fielding card at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lemieux showed the risks that are involved in fighters trying to lose weight to make weight. Sometimes fighters can do it safely, but a lot of times they can’t. Lemieux is an example of a fighter who was hurt trying to make the weight. What Korobov is going to be going through to make the 160 lb limit is could be tougher than what Lemieux did. Korobov is a light heavyweight, not a middleweight. Some boxing fans believe Lemieux is a true light heavyweight at this point in his career, and resisting the idea of moving up to the weight class that is more fitting to his body size.

Charlo could be sorry for taking on a fighter with Korobov’s amateur pedigree on short notice. If Korobov isn’t weight drained, and if he doesn’t get stomped in the first four rounds, he’ll have a chance of winning the fight late if Charlo gasses out. We saw Charlo fade late in his fight against Austin Trout in May 2016. Charlo ultimately still won the fight by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 116-112, 115-113 and 116-112. The fight was closer than the fans had expected it to be. Saul Canelo Alvarez, Jarrett Hurd and Erislandy Lara did a far better job of defeating Trout than Charlo did.

In the co-feature on next Saturday’s Charlo-Korobov fight, WBC junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo defends against Tony Harrison. This should be a good fight for as long as it lasts. Harrison has some pop in his punches, but he gasses out if he’s unable to score a KO in the first six rounds.

As bad as Canelo’s opponent Rocky Fielding looked last Saturday, Korobov would have been a better choice for Golden Boy Promotions to match their Mexican star against instead of him. Korobov is a smart fighter, and he wouldn’t have made the same mistakes that Fielding did against Canelo.

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