Middleweight prospect Matt Korobov, who was a star amateur and 2008 Russian Olympian, has moved slowly as a professional fighter but finally will move into the spotlight.
Korobov will take on fellow undefeated opponent Jose Uzcategui on June 28 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. The scheduled 10-round fight will serve as the HBO-televised co-feature on the card headlined by Omaha's own lightweight titleholder Terence Crawford (23-0, 16 KOs), making his first defense against former featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-0, 16 KOs), a 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist who defected in 2007.
"It's what [HBO's] 'Boxing After Dark' is really about -- two undefeated fighters risking a lot in the hopes of getting to the next level," Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com after finalizing Korobov-Uzcategui. "I applaud [HBO executive] Peter Nelson for coming up with this matchup and, obviously, the fighters for taking the risk.
"Both fighters are undefeated, but undefeated records are sorta like bikinis. They show more than they reveal."
Korobov (23-0, 14 KOs), a 31-year-old southpaw living in South Florida, turned pro in late 2008 but has moved slowly. With various injuries, trainer changes and visa issues, he fought only once in 2012 but had four bouts in 2013 and has fought once already this year while defeating experienced steppingstone opponents such as Ossie Duran (KO3), Grady Brewer (W8) and Derek Edwards (TKO9).
Uzcategui (22-0, 18 KOs), 23, a native of Venezuela living in Mexico, will be fighting outside of Mexico for the first time and has not faced the level of opponents Korobov has, but he has a reputation as a powerful puncher.
Korobov-Uzcategui wound up as the co-feature when a lightweight bout between former unified titleholder Juan Diaz (39-4, 19 KOs) and former title challenger Raymundo Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KOs) fell apart after Beltran elected not to finalize a contract.
Crawford-Gamboa will be only the second world title bout in Omaha history. In 1972, 15 years before Crawford was born, Joe Frazier defended the heavyweight championship against Omaha's Ron Stander at the Civic Auditorium and knocked him out in the fifth round to retain the title.