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WBC rules out Monroe Jr. for Charlo fight on Sat.

Image: WBC rules out Monroe Jr. for Charlo fight on Sat.

By Jim Dower: Earlier today on Monday morning, the World Boxing Council officially ruled out former two-time world title challenger Willie Monroe Jr. as the opponent for interim WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo for this Saturday night due to a positive test for an elevated level of testosterone, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.

Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) will now be facing 35-year-old light heavyweight Matt Korobov (28-1, 14 KOs) in the main event on the Premier Boxing Champions card on Fox this Saturday, December 22 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

The levels of testosterone in the system of the 32-year-old Monroe Jr. (23-3, 6 KOs) was “elevated” above the acceptable limit for the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program test, according to Rafael.

Monroe Jr. was beaten last year by former WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision on September 16, 2017 in London, England. It was a mostly one-sided win for Saunders over Monroe. The scores were 115-114, 117-112 and 117-111. Despite having an advantage in hand speed and punching power in the fight, Monroe mostly jabbed the entire fight. It wasn’t a great effort on Monroe’s part. In May 2015, Monroe was stopped in the 6th round by Gennady Golovkin in a world title shot. Monroe was knocked down two times in round 2, and once in round 6.

“The WBC CBP’s ultimate goal is to protect the health, safety and welfare of boxers. Accordingly, the WBC must fully investigate the specific facts surrounding Mr. Monroe’s reported adverse finding before fully adjudicating the matter,” the WBC said via

Charlo, 28, had taken a massive amount of criticism for selecting Monroe Jr. as his opponent. The boxing fans want to see Charlo fight good opposition, and Monroe doesn’t fit that category in the eyes of a lot of people. Monroe’s non effort against Saunders, and his poor showing against GGG turned a lot of boxing fans off.

2008 Russian Olympian Korobov is seen as an upgrade over Monroe Jr. However, Korobov fights at light heavyweight, and he was scheduled to fight an eight round match against journeyman Juan De Angel at super middleweight on the undercard of the Charlo vs. Monroe Jr. fight in an off TV fight. Korobov will need to lose an extra 8 pounds to get down from 168 to 160 by Friday’s weigh-in. It’s going to take a massive amount of effort from the 35-year-old Korobov to lose that amount of weight to make the 160 lb limit by Friday. Korobov isn’t a spring chicken at his age, and he’s not been active with his career. His fight with De Angel was viewed as a match to get the ring rust off after having been out of the ring for nine months following his six round decision win over journeyman Jonathan Batista on March 24. Korobov didn’t fight at all in 2017.

“I was well prepared for Willie Monroe, who is a southpaw, so there won’t be that much difference facing Korobov,” Jermall said. “There is a size difference. He’s taller than Monroe, but I’ll just have to adjust my game plan. The best fighters in the world are the ones who are able to make the best adjustments. Beating Korobov is going to make the victory that much sweeter due to this adversity.”

It’s good that Charlo has his eyes wide open to the threat that Korobov brings to the table for this fight. If Korobov is at the same level he was when he beat Jose Uzcategui by a 10 round decision in 2014, Charlo could have a real fight on his hands. The 5’11” southpaw Korobov is smart, powerful, and aggressive. He’s the opposite of Monroe Jr. in many respects. Korobov will come to fight on Saturday. He’s not going to just roll over the way Monroe Jr. likely would have. If Charlo is going to win this fight, he’ll need to get in the trenches and beat Korobov the old fashioned way by slugging it out with him. This won’t be a cheap win like it would have been had Charlo fought the over-matched, under-powered, passive Monroe Jr. Korobov has a much better amateur pedigree, and he’s someone that knows how to win.

While it’s possible that Korobov could possibly pull off an upset on Saturday night against the younger 28-year-old Charlo, the combination of the Russian fighter’s inactivity, advanced age and the need to take off a lot of extra weight the week of the fight makes it highly unlikely that he’ll win. With all the disadvantages that Korobov has in this fight going against him, there’s a good chance he’ll be dominated and possibly stopped by Charlo, who is looking very good right now. Some boxing fans believe that Charlo is now the best fighter in the 160 lb weight class. The fact that Golden Boy Promotions and Saul Canelo Alvarez have shown zero interest in fighting Charlo shows the respect that they have for him. Charlo is Canelo’s mandatory challenger for his World Boxing Council title. With the high amount of interest there is from fans in a fight between Canelo and Charlo, it looks odd for the Mexican fighter not to be defending his WBC title against him. The only thing that one can think is Canelo is wary of the threat the 6’0″ Charlo brings to the table for that fight, and he doesn’t want to mix it up and potentially end up like past knockout victims of the hard-hitting Texas native.

Despite having to deal with the weight loss of an extra eight lbs and the big upgrade in opponent, Korobov is upbeat about his fight with Charlo. Korobov likes his chances to win the fight. That could be bad news for Charlo, who has never fought anyone at the pro level with Korobov’s type of talent or amateur background. Charlo is facing an Olympian for the first time in his career, and this is a much different experience for him from the fighters that he’d been facing earlier in his career. Charlo’s best wins have come against Austin Trout, Cornelius Bundrage, Hugo Centeno Jr.,

“I was training to fight on this card so I am physically and mentally ready to fight,” Korobov said. “It doesn’t matter that I am taking this fight on a week’s notice because I have been preparing for this moment my entire life. I will make a few adjustments for Charlo.”

You’ve got to like Korobov’s attitude in taking the challenge against Charlo. Some fighters would be afraid at the thought of facing Charlo on six day’s notice and having to take off extra weight to face him, but Korobov is motivated, and he sees it as a real opportunity for him. A win for Korobov puts him in the position to get life changing money in a fight against WBC middleweight champion Saul Canelo Alvarez.

Charlo’s interim WBC middleweight title will be on the line this Saturday night. The WBC is expected to order Canelo to face his mandatory challenger soon. It wouldn’t be surprising if the WBC orders Canelo to defend against the winner of the Charlo vs. Korobov fight. The title defense is overdue as it is.

On the undercard of Charlo-Korobov, Jermall’s twin brother Jermell Charlo will be defending his WBC junior middleweight title against Tony Harrison.

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