By Matt Lieberman: Bob Arum is looking at staging the Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez light-welterweight clash in Edinburgh, Scotland, or Las Vegas, provided Josh defeats Apinun Khongsong this Saturday night.
IBF/WBA 140-lb champion Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) is fighting his unbeaten IBF mandatory Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) on ESPN+at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, UK.
Taylor, 29, insists that he’s not overlooking his hard-hitting challenger, but that’s got to be challenging given the vast fan interest in his unification bout with Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs).
The WBA/WBO 140lb champion Ramirez cannot afford another bout like the one we saw from him recently against his WBC mandatory Viktor Postol on August 29 last month in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ramirez came close to losing to the talented Ukrainian fighter.
Fortunately for Ramirez, the judged sided with him, scoring it as a 12 round majority decision. However, the boxing public saw it the other way around, viewing Postol as the winner, and Ramirez lost credibility.
Arum talks Taylor vs. Ramirez location
“Edinburgh is a beautiful city. Me and Josh [Taylor] were talking about it being a university town,” said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum during Wednesday’s news conference for the Taylor vs. Apinun Khongsong fight on Saturday.
“I’ve never done a fight in Edinburgh. Years ago, I did a fight in Glasgow. Glasgow is kind of a hardscrabble town compared to Edinburgh. Still, I’m looking forward to Edinburgh because a lot of the kids in the United States because a lot of them go to Edinburgh when they do university work and visit friends.
“And as far as Jose Ramirez is concerned, he said he doesn’t care where the fight is [with Taylor]. Wherever economically it is best to do the fight, he’s for it, whether doing it in Scotland, London, or doing it back in the United States.
“Wherever the fight makes the most sense, the fight will happen. Josh, of course, has a job to do on Saturday. That’s a funny thing. You got this Thai guy [Apinun Khongsong], who looks heavy-handed, but who has he really fought in his career?
“Most of his opponents are unknown to us, but he looks like he’s a big puncher. So Josh will have to watch out for him, and he’ll have his work cut out for him. Hopefully, he’ll be victorious, and then we can start planning the unification for the four titles,” said Arum.
The location of the Ramirez vs. Taylor fight is of less importance than it usually would be due to the inability to stage the match in front of fans.
There won’t be any advantage for either fighter, whether it’s the match takes place in Scotland or Nevada. It’s still going to be a contest that takes place behind closed doors.
Josh must win on Saturday
“Right now, if Josh fought in Las Vegas, maybe it wouldn’t have a big impact,” Arum continued. “But if he fights Ramirez in Las Vegas, Ramirez has a tremendous Hispanic following. A lot of Scots would come over to Las Vegas, particularly when the coronavirus is a thing of the past, and it would be a massive fight.
“Yeah, it’s a great introduction to the American audience [for Taylor]. His fight live in the United States against Ramirez. Boxing fans all saw his [Taylor] fight with [Regis] Prograis. So boxing writers in the United States and so forth put him in the top category of pound-for-pound fighters.
“But again, whether the fights in the United States or Las Vegas or it’s in Scotland, it’s going to be a great, great fight. Let’s just hope things going well on Saturday, so it becomes a reality,” said Arum
“I’m not looking past this guy at all,” said Josh Taylor about his opponent this Saturday. “Everybody keeps saying ‘next,’ but I think I’m the only person that’s not looking past him. I’m fully concentrating on him because I can’t afford no slip-ups. I’m not looking past him one bit. My mind is fully focused on this job,” said Taylor.
If Taylor, 29, fails to get the win on Saturday, he can forget about fighting Ramirez. It might end up being Khongsong that moves forward to face Ramirez, which won’t make Arum happy. He’s been talking up the Ramirez vs. Taylor fight for a long time.
There’s not much known about Khongsong, as he’s been fighting in near obscurity in his native country of Thailand his entire four-year professional career. He’s not fought the usual suspects that boxing fans are familiar with.
Still, the IBF has given Khongsong a #1 ranking with their organization, so they must see something in him.
Taylor wary of Khongsong’s power
“You’ll see on Saturday what I’ve been working on and what I’ve been trying to do and achieve in recent times. It’ll be a good performance,” said Taylor. “He’s got good timing and a kind of unorthodox bounce,” said Taylor about Khongsong.
“He’s good at luring his opponents in on top of that and on the back of that, and then he springs in and attacks them. You’re not in punching position [when he attacks]. He’s got good timing, and he’s got an unorthodox type of rhythm, and he punches right through the target.
“He looks like he’s really heavy-handed. He’s got the same record as me, but one more knockout. He looks like he punches through the target, and it quite heavy-handed. We’re well prepared for Saturday, and we’re expecting a tough fight against a guy that’s going to have good, explosive power in front of us.
“He’s a hungry guy. It’s going to be really tough going, especially early doors. We’ll see how it goes on Saturday, but I think ultimately, he’s not going to have nothing that I haven’t seen before, but we’ve got to wait until that first bell rings,” said Taylor.
Khongsong’s punching power is undeniable. You can see that from watching some of his fights. He appears to be a better puncher than the fighters that Taylor has been dealing with during his career, but he hasn’t faced anyone nearly as good as Joshua.
On Saturday, Khongsong will be getting hit back, and he may not be ready for that new experience. Taylor is on another level from the fighters that Khongsong has been facing during his short career.