Matvey Korobov dropped Jose Uzcategui twice en route to posting a 10-round unanimous decision in the co-feature to the Terence Crawford-Yuriorkis Gamboa fight on Saturday in Omaha, Neb. Korobov, who scored both knockdowns in Round 7, won by scores of 97-91 (twice) and 96-92.
Korobov, a former Russian amateur standout now based in St. Petersburg, Fla., was the favorite in the matchup of unbeaten-but-untested middleweights and the 31-year-old southpaw was the sharper puncher and superior ring general. However, Uzcategui, a 23-year-old Tijuana-based Venezuelan, was game throughout the generally uneventful bout and the rangy youngster was able to land his right hand and occasionally back up Korobov.
Both fighters dealt with cuts during the boxing match. Korobov (24-0, 13 knockouts) was cut over his right eye in Round 5, probably from a punch. Uzcategui (22-1, 18 KOs) was cut over his left eye by an accidental headbutt in the previous round.
Korobov, who was the busier fighter, wasn't terribly impressive over the first six rounds of the bout. He outboxed and outworked Uzcategui during the first four rounds but then took his foot off the gas pedal in Round 5 and 6 as the Venezuelan stepped up his agression.
Korobov's trainer asked him to step it up after Round 6 and the Russian did at the start of Round 7, dropping Uzcategui with a looping right hook and then catching and flooring the younger man with the same shot within the first minute of the round. Korobov also worked Uzcategui's body well in Round 7.
However, Uzcategui fought well in Round 8, well enough to win it, perhaps suggesting that he has a future in the sport.
Korobov's future is now. At age 31, he can no longer afford to be "brought along" with favorable matchmaking. His management and promoter (Top Rank) need to roll the dice against a top-10 middleweight if not a titleholder by the end of this year if the Russian is going to have any hope of living up to the potential many thought he had coming out of the 2008 Olympics.