By: William Holmes
On Saturday night HBO will be presenting a WBO Lightweight World Title match between Terence Crawford and Yuriorkis Gamboa in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. This will be the first legitimate world title match in Omaha in over forty two years, when Joe Frazier defended his world heavyweight title against Ron Stander in 1972.
Upcoming prospects Matt Korobov and Jose Uzcategui will meet in the co-feature of the night in the middleweight division. The following is a preview of both of the televised bouts.
Matt Korobov (23-0) vs. Jose Uzcategui (22-0); Middleweights
The first televised bout of the night is between undefeated Russian prospect Matt Korobov and undefeated Venezuelan prospect Jose Uzcategui.
Uzcategui is eight years younger than Korobov, and he has a reach advantage over Korobov, but he does not have the amateur experience of his opponent. Korobov won the middleweight world amateur title in 2005 and 2007 but has never competed in the Olympics. Uzcategui has no notable success as an amateur.
Uzcategui, on paper, appears to have more power than Korobov. He has stopped eighteen of his opponents his past five victories. Korobov on the other hand has fourteen stoppages to his record but has stopped four of his past five opponents.
Uzcategui has spent his entire career fighting in Mexico and has never ventured outside of Mexico to compete. He holds no victories over well known opponents, but has defeated the likes of Michel Rosales, Rogelio Medina, and David Lopez.
Korobov has faced significantly better opposition. He has defeated the likes of Grady Brewer, Derek Edwards, Ossie Duran, and Milton Nunez. Korobov has also traveled to fight and has competed in Mexico and all over the United States, including the Home Depot Center in Carson California, the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey and at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Nevada.
Both Uzcategui and Korobov have been active recently. Uzcategui has competed five times in 2013 while Korobov has competed four times. However, Korobov is the more polished boxer of the two and has faced the better opposition. He should be the heavy favorite for Saturday night, but Uzcategui has a puncher’s chance at pulling off an upset.
Terence Crawford (23-0) vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-0); WBO Lightweight Title
This is a very intriguing and competitive matchup between two boxers with identical records. Both are undefeated and both have sixteen knockouts on their resume. Both have also stopped two of their past five opponents.
Gamboa is the elder of the two, he’s currently thirty two years old while Crawford is in the midst of his athletic prime at the age of twenty six. Gamboa will also be giving up height and reach to Crawford, Crawford has a five inch reach advantage and a two and a half inch height advantage. They are both similar in hand speed.
Gamboa has had more success as an amateur, he won the gold medal in the flyweight division in the 2004 Olympics. Crawford however also had considerable success as an amateur, though his success came at the national level as opposed to the international level. Crawford is a former Police Athletic League Amateur Champion and an amateur champion in the 2007 U.S. Pan American Games.
This will only be Gamboa’s second fight in the lightweight division and he has yet to prove he can be as dominant in the lightweight division as he was in the featherweight division. Gamboa has also been relatively inactive. He’s only fought twice since October of 2011. Gamboa’s notable victories have come against Darleys Perez, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Orlando Salido, Jonathan Barros, and Rogers Mtagwa.
It should be noted that most of Gamboa’s big victories have come in the featherweight division.
Terence Crawford has had a steady rise in the lightweight division with the backing of Top Rank Promotions and has been extremely active in the past two years. He has had eight fights since October of 2011 and has tested himself in the lightweight division.
He won a clear and easy decision against Ricky Burns in Burns’ backyard of Glascow, Scotland to win the WBO Lightweight Title. He has also defeated the likes of Andrey Klimov, Breidis Prescott, Derrick Campos, and Alejandro Sanabria.
If Gamboa is going to win he’ll need to press for the knockout early, it’s unlikely he’ll get a favorable reading on the scorecards in Crawford’s hometown. If Crawford can afford Gamboa’s power and use his reach and height to his advantage he should walk away with a decision victory.
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