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Top Rank now promoting Josh Taylor vs. Apinun Khongsong, fight possible for May

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By Jim Maltzman: Top Rank has taken over the promotion for the light welterweight fight between IBF/WBA champion Josh Taylor and his IBF mandatory challenger Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) after Sampson Boxing reportedly defaulted on their winning bid that he put in recently, according to ESPN.

They put in a bid of $1.32 million that beat out Top Rank’s $1.26 million.

Top Rank will now take over the promotion of the fight, and they plan on either placing the Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) vs Khongsong fight on the undercard of the Jose Ramirez vs. Viktor Postol card or having it in it’s own headliner position next May in the UK, says Dan Rafael.

Taylor-Khongsong could headline in UK

Ramirez-Postol was supposed to be taking place on Saturday, February 1 in Hainan, China. However, the fight was postponed due to an outbreak of the coronavirus. Top Rank plans on rescheduling it for next May. It’ll be on ESPN.

Top Rank recently signed 2012 Olympian Taylor to their stable. They plan on matching him against WBC/WBO 140-lb champion Jose Ramirez possibly in 2020, and then face Terence Crawford at some point.

Right now, Taylor isn’t a big enough name to be the main event in a fight in the U.S, which is why Top Rank boss Arum is thinking of putting his fight against unknown fighter Khongsong on the Ramirez-Postol undercard. Whether that happens or not is still unknown.

It would be a doubleheader, and it might attract a few more U.S hardcore boxing fans, but not the casuals. They haven’t heard of Taylor. If Taylor beats Khongsong, and Ramirez defeats Postol, then those two winners will meet for the undisputed light welterweight unification fight in late 2020.

Arum working on location for Taylor vs. Khongsong 

“I think that Taylor being who he is, we are better off doing the fight in the U.K. That’s my feeling,” Arum said to ESPN.com. “We’ll get a date and partner with Frank (Warren) or [Matchroom Boxing promoter] Eddie (Hearn). We’ll have to figure out a date, and then we will move ahead with the fight sometime in May,” said Arum.

Taylor has a huge fan base in his native Scotland, and it would make a lot more sense for Arum to stage his fight against the 23-year-old Khongsong over there. He’s not well known enough in the U.S, and his opponent isn’t a name either.

The IBF needs to fix the way they rank fighters, because the guys that they’re selecting to fight in their eliminators are woefully in some cases. They end up getting destroyed when they take champions.

Experience lacking for Khongsong 

Khongsong hasn’t faced a world level fighter, and here is about to challenge for a world title. It’s not good for the fans, since this is likely going to be a complete blowout for Taylor.

It doesn’t help Taylor become a bigger name if he has to defend his title against guys that arguably don’t deserve to be fighting for a world title. Khongsong is a textbook example of a fighter that doesn’t rate being a mandatory. He’s been fighting in his native Thailand virtually his entire career against guys with losing records, and nothing much going for them.

Here are Khongsong’s last 10 opponents:

  • Yosmar Kefi (9-13)
  • Akihiro Kondo (32-9-1, 18)
  • Sonny Katiandagho (13-5, 7 KOs)
  • Ray Rahardjo (6-14-5, 2 KOs)
  • Jason Egera (24-22-2, 11 KOs)
  • Rusmin Kie Raha (15-18-3, 3 KOs)
  • Adam Diu Abdulhamid (15-9, 7 KOs)
  • Junar Adante (7-12-1, 4 KOs)
  • Eddy Comaro (34-32-5, 13 KOs)
  • Yuta Maruoka (12-5, 6 KOs)

Taylor defeated WBA light welterweight champion Regis Prograis by a 12 round majority decision last October in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series 140-lb tournament.

There would be a lot more interest from fans in seeing a rematch between Taylor and Prograis than Josh defending against Khongsong. Taylor wants to unify the light welterweight division before moving up to 147.


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