By Keith Idec
Matt Korobov thought Jose Uzcategui would want a rematch of the only loss Uzcategui hasn’t avenged.
Uzcategui seeks an opponent for his first defense of the IBF super middleweight title. Korobov considers himself perfect for that assignment, especially considering their history, but Korobov told BoxingScene.com he has been informed Uzcategui wants to fight someone else next.
“I was so excited last week when my managers [Mike Borao and Jameel McCline] called and asked if I would fight Uzcatequi,” Korobov said. “I said yes without even asking what the money was. Now I’m hearing he won’t fight me. Of course he won’t fight me – he is scared, like everyone else. I beat him once easy, he knows I’ll beat him again. It is very difficult to know you are the best, but not have a chance to prove it.”
Korobov beat Uzcategui by unanimous decision in their 10-rounder four years ago. The Russian southpaw dropped the hard-hitting Venezuelan twice in the seventh round and won their middleweight match comfortably in June 2014 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
Uzcategui stopped Andre Dirrell after the eighth round of their rematch March 3 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He won the IBF’s interim super middleweight title that night, but he was elevated to IBF world champion once James DeGale gave up that title to pursue more lucrative opportunities than a fight against Uzcategui.
If Uzcategui (27-2, 23 KOs) doesn’t change his mind, the 35-year-old Korobov (28-1, 14 KOs) gladly would go back down to middleweight for a shot at WBC interim 160-pound champion Jermall Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs).
“You don’t hear anyone but me calling to fight Jermall Charlo,” Korobov said. “I have been begging for that fight, also, but Charlo is looking at less risky opponents. People say Charlo is dangerous. I say look who he is fighting. He is very protected.”
Korobov believed he had secured a shot at WBC super middleweight champ David Benavidez last month. He signed a contract to battle Benavidez on July 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, but Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs) signed a new promotional contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc.
Benavidez’s Top Rank deal later was voided due to the threat of litigation from Benavidez’s promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz. The WBC since has ordered Benavidez to make a mandatory title defense against Anthony Dirrell (32-1-1, 24 KOs) in his next fight.
“I was finally going to get a chance to prove that I am one of best fighters in the world,” Korobov said, “and win a world title against a good champion. But Benavidez took the opportunity away from me with his actions. I know I would beat Benavidez. I just hope I get the chance after Dirrell.”
Korobov is willing to fight anyone at middleweight or super middleweight, but he hasn’t been able to land a high-profile fight.
“Even Gilberto Ramirez avoided me,” Korobov said of the WBO super middleweight champion. “Bob Arum called my manager over a year ago, when I was signed with Top Rank, and said you have to fight Ramirez for some low purse. I said yes, like always. And then Bob called my manager and said, ‘I can’t believe it, but Ramirez won’t fight Matt.’
“I can’t make the world champions fight me, but there is a very good reason they won’t. The same way that I beat Uzcategui, I would beat the other belt-holders. They all know it.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.