Josh Taylor makes the first defence of his unified Super Lightweight titles against Thai unknown quantity, Apinun Khongsong behind closed doors at York Hall on Saturday night live on BT Sport and ESPN+ in the USA.
‘The Tartan Tornado’ puts his WBA ‘Super,’ IBF and Ring Magazine ten stone belts on the line in his first appearance since winning the Muhammad Ali Trophy at the end of October 2019.
Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) also works with new head coach, Ben Davison for the first time, following an acrimonious split with trainer Shane McGuigan.
The Scot is fast becoming a pound-for-pound star and solidified his claims by coming through a tough field to win the World Boxing Super Series in a classic against Regis Prograis last October.
After a solid amateur career, winning a Commonwealth Games Gold in 2014. Taylor turned professional in 2015, swiftly picking up the Commonwealth crown in just his seventh contest.
After one defence, a grudge match was arranged with the brash Ohara Davies for July 2017 in Glasgow. In what was a 50-50 fight on paper, Taylor destroyed the Londoner with a dominant seventh round stoppage.
Taylor has been matched well throughout his career, knocking out former world champion Miguel Vazquez in nine before stopping Wiston Campos in three in March 2018.
Three months later would see another eye catching step up, as Taylor dropped the former WBC champion, Viktor Postol, in the tenth on the way to a tough points win.
That win sealed Taylor’s entry into the inaugural Super Lightweight version of the World Boxing Super Series and the 29-year-old began by halting previously unbeaten American Ryan Martin in the quarter-finals.
The semi-final would see a world title shot against IBF champion, Ivan Baranchyk in Glasgow and Taylor again came through a tough test, dropping the Belarusian twice en route to a deserved points win.
Taylor edged Regis Prograis in a majority decision thriller to add the WBA ‘Super’ crown, as well as the Muhammad Ali Trophy to his collection in the final.
The Edinburgh man has since switched coaches and teams to MTK Global and Top Rank, with an undisputed clash against WBC and WBO king, Jose Carlos Ramirez in the works for 2021, should the Californian get past WBO mandatory Jack Catterall.
Taylor must take care of little known Apinun Khongsong, who fights outside of Asia for the very first time as a professional.
Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) gets his shot, as a result of being the IBF mandatory contender, with the Bangkok resident serving as the IBF Pan Pacific champion.
The 24-year-old has been a professional for just four years and has feasted mostly on fighters with adverse records thus far.
His breakout win came in February 2019, when he knocked out the faded former world title challenger Akihiro Kondo in five rounds in Japan.
He last fought in July last year, stopping Yosmar Kefi in two.
Prediction: Taylor will be keen to impress his American admirers especially here, and will look to put on a dominant display against the Thai. Khongsong hasn’t fought anywhere near the level of Taylor in his career and this surely will be a step too far for him in East London. The pick is for Taylor to solve the puzzle by halfway.
The undercard is spearheaded by a Queensberry promotions’ debut for Charlie Edwards.
The former WBC Flyweight king, who signed with Frank Warren in May, moves up in weight, and takes on former British title challenger, Kyle Williams over ten rounds at Bantamweight.
Edwards (15-1, 6 KOs, 1 NC) was fortunate to hang onto his belt last time out in August 2019, when Julio Cesar Martinez dropped the Epsom man heavily with a body shot, but the Mexican then needlessly hit Edwards with a finishing body shot whilst he was still on the canvas.
The fight was ruled a no contest and Edwards had outgrown the weight, so gave up his crown. He now faces Wolverhampton’s Williams, who is coming off a loss and is 1-2 in his last three outings.
Williams (11-2, 3 KOs), who claimed the English title with a split decision over Thomas Essomba in 2018, was beaten was the first time by the excellent Kash Farooq, halted him in five in a failed British title bid in Glasgow.
After a comeback win, Williams challenged for the vacant WBO European belt in Wolverhampton, but Romanian Ionut Baluta took the title with a split decision victory last October.
Prediction: Edwards will want to get rounds under his belt and will also want to announce his move to his new paymasters in style. Edwards can remove the brave Williams from battle in around five or six rounds.
Elsewhere, David Oliver Joyce defends his WBO European Bantamweight crown against the aforementioned Inout Baluta (13-2, 2 KOs) over ten rounds.
Joyce (12-1 9 KOs) lost his unbeaten record in the Featherweight Golden Contract against Leigh Wood in October 2019, stopped in nine, but rebounded to pick up the vacant WBO European belt at Super Bantamweight last time out, stopping a faded Lee Haskins in five.
Prediction: Joyce should have too much for Baluta in this one, and can score an inside schedule win.
At Super Welterweight, George Davey (2-0) meets Jeff Thomas (12-7-3, 1 KO) over four, whilst Northampton Super Lightweight Eithan James (3-0) continues his fledgling career against an opponent to be announced.
Lightweight prospect Jordan Flynn (1-0) fights for the second time against experienced journeyman Jamie Quinn (7-104-2).