By Jake Donovan
The concept behind HBO showcasing unbeaten middleweight Matt Korobov was to build him up as a potential future opponent for red-hot middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin.
That much was evident throughout the broadcast, as their commentary failed to match the lack of action that took place for much of Korobov's 10-round points win over Jose Uzcategui.
The bout served as the televised chief support to the lightweight title fight between Terence Crawford and Yuriorkis Gamboa at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
Action was sparing for much of the contest, to where the highlight of the night for several round was Uzcategui's bright yellow socks as part of a ring outfit paying homage to his native Venezuela. Now based out of Mexico, the 23-year old failed to put his height and reach advantage to use against the more experienced Korobov, a member of the 2008 Russian Olympic boxing squad.
Neither fighter seemed anxious to take the lead over the course of the first half of the bout, prompting the boo birds to come out amongst a packed house anxious to see their local favorite, Crawford in action later in the evening.
A cut developed over Uzcategui's left eye in round two, ruled from a punch but never a factor as Korobov seemed disinterested in picking up the pace.
The crowd was finally given reason to cheer in round seven, when Korobov scored two knockdowns and seemingly had the opportunity to knock him out. A body shot led to the bout's first knockdown, with Uzcategui going down for the first time in his career. He was sent down moments later, but literally left off the hook by Korobov, who spent the rest of the fight going through the motions.
Scores of 97-91 (twice) and 96-92 were in favor of Korobov, who advances to 24-0 (14KOs). Uzcategui suffers his first pro loss, falling to 22-1 (18KO).
The regional title at stake suggests Korobov will move towards the top of the list of contenders for unbeaten middleweight titlist Peter Quillin. That dynamic is tricky, considering Korobov fights for Top Rank while Quillin is part of Al Haymon's neverending stable. HBO's desire is to have Korobov face Golovkin, simply because they need middleweights to feed the rising star from Kazakhstan.
The ten rounds of boxing that took place suggest Korobov remains a work in progress, though at 31-years of age already appears to have reached "fish or cut bait" status.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox