Main Event: Josh Taylor 16(12)-0-0 vs Apinun Khongsong 16(13)-0-0
‘The Tartan Tornado’ Josh Taylor makes a welcome return this Saturday, when he defends his IBF, WBA ‘Super’ and Ring Magazine 140lbs world championships against IBF mandatory challenger Apinun Khongsong at York Hall, live on BT.
Originally the bout was scheduled to take place at the Hydro on May 2nd, however, like all other live sport, these plans had to be shelved due to the pandemic. While the delay was undoubtedly frustrating for Taylor, there was a silver lining in that it provided him with more time to get better acquainted with his new trainer, Ben Davison.
Originally, Davison wouldn’t have been present in Taylor’s corner on May 2nd, as he was due to be in the corner of Billy-Joe Saunders against Canelo which was also subsequently cancelled.
Although Taylor will be thankful to have Davison in his corner, the Edinburgh man will be without his army of Scottish fans that customarily roar him on, although this should not phase Taylor.
He pointed out himself that he is used to fighting with no or small crowds, because of his extensive amateur experience, and appearing right down the pecking order on undercards early on in his career. Therefore,it shall not be an unknown quantity for him.
What is an unknown quantity, however, is Apinun Khongsong himself.
There is sparse footage of the Thai challenger available, and from what is accessible online, it is hard to get a measure of how talented Khongsong is. Like Taylor, at 5′ 10″, Khongsong is rather tall at the weight, and also like Taylor he has an unblemished record of sixteen wins and no losses.
The obvious difference between the two combatants lies in the gulf of quality of the opposition they have faced. While Khongsong has cut his teeth fighting in Thailand and Japan against unknown opponents, Taylor has encountered the best in the division.
It’s hard to argue that Taylor, the victor of the World Boxing Super Series 140lbs tournament, is the top dog in the light-welterweight division. His last four opponents have a combined record of 94-1-0, and three were world champions at one time or another.
We know what Taylor is all about. A former Commonwealth games gold medalist, he is a slick southpaw that is also very crisp with his shots and canbang a fair bit.
He’s demonstrated he can tough it out in dog fight as he did in his battle with Regis Prograis last time out, and also exhibited he can outbox a boxer as he did back in 2018 against Postol. He has confronted every style possible, and each time Taylor has stepped up in opposition, he has risen to the occasion.
On that basis, I am confident he will have more than enough to avail once more on Saturday night.
Indeed, the unknown Khongsong could well prove to be brilliant, and the Thai will hope Saturday will represent his breakout performance to announce himself to the world. However, even if he does transpire to be fantastic, it’s hard to envisage him offering a proposition that Taylor has not previously faced.
Consequently, I suspect the Scot should be able to adapt readily to whatever Khongsong brings to the table.
Although many are dismissing Khongsong, Davison and Taylor have been peruse with their research of the man from Thailand. In his interview with IFL, Davison stated he was particularly wary of the power Khongsong brings, and that Taylor will have to stick to the game plans they have formulated to negate Khongsong.
To his credit, throughout the build-up, Taylor has made it clear he is not overlooking Khongsong and has prepared as diligently as he would for any of his previous opponents.
That said, Taylor will surely already have one eye on the prospect of an undisputed fight with his Top Rank stablemate, and WBC and WBO champion, Jose Ramirez. That fight may well not be for all the belts depending on if Ramirez has to vacate the WBO because of his obligations to Jack Catterall.
However that situation may unfold, Taylor has made it clear his goal is to become the undisputed champion at light-welterweight, before moving up to 147lbs to test himself against the likes of Spence and Crawford.
I am eager to see for myself how talented Khongsong is and how far he will push Taylor, but I feel Taylor is just too experienced and too good to allow himself to slip up.
Prediction: Taylor points victory.
On the undercard, former WBC flyweight world champion Charlie Edwards (15(6)-1-0) makes his first appearance as a Frank Warren fighter. Now up at Bantamweight, Edwards takes on Kyle Williams (11(3)-2-0), as he looks to settle in at 118lbs.
Edwards will hope to kick on with a win against Williams and target a second world title, or a bout with domestic rival Kal Yafai. Former English champion Williams will hope to scupper those plans with a big performance against the former Team GB star, although one would have to favour Edwards to emerge with a comfortable victory.
Also returning is former Olympian David Oliver Joyce (12(9)-1-0), who defends his WBO European Super-Bantamweight title against Romanian Ionut Baluta (13(2)-0-0). Joyce is still rebuilding after his surprise loss to Leigh Wood up at Featherweight in the MTK Golden Contract tournament. Last time out he did manage to bounce back with a career-best victory when he stopped Lee Haskins in Belfast.
Likewise, Baluta comes into the contest on the back of a career-best victory, having outpointed former world champion, TJ Doheny, in a shock victory. Standing at 5′ 10.5”tall Baluta is huge for the weight, and I wonder how much weight he has to cut to make the super-bantamweight limit, and whether that could make him susceptible to Joyce’s body shots. Irishman Joyce will hope to utilise his extensive experience as an amateur to avoid a slip up like his countryman, Doheny. I imagine Joyce should have enough in his locker to triumph against Baluta and will be desperate to avoid any further slip-ups.
Also, on the undercard, George Davey (2-0-0) takes on Jeff Thomas (12-7-3) at light-middleweight, Jordan Flynn (1-0-0)fights Jamie Quinn (7-104-2) at lightweight while EithanJames (3-0-0) will appear against an opponent who is yet to be announced.
Aaron Ludford for SimBoxx