26 September 2020 20:46
It's been a tough year but fight fans finally have something to savour as Josh Taylor gets ready to make his in-ring return. The Tartan Tornado has had to be patient amid the pandemic but he gets an opportunity to follow up on his stunning World Boxing Super Series triumph. The 25-year-old is a dangerous knockout artist but is a major underdog against the WBA and IBF champion who is undefeated in 16 professional contests. Taylor knows a win will put him on a collision course with WBC and WBO champion Jose Ramirez in a fight that will crown the undisputed light welterweight kingpin. But Khongsong must be dealt with and the Commonwealth Games boxing gold medalist has stressed all week that he isn't getting ahead of himself.
It has been nine years since Josh Taylor boxed at York Hall and his memories of one of British boxing's spiritual homes are not the best. Taylor will defend his WBA and IBF super-lightweight titles against Apinum Khongson, of Thailand, on Saturday. Delayed from May, when it should have taken place in Glasgow, a return to York Hall – which was originally a swimming pool and has staged boxing since the Fifties - is hardly the takeover of America he had imagined when he signed for Top Rank. Taylor, who was already a Commonwealth Games silver-medallist in 2011, would go on to compete at the London Olympics in 2012, where he beat Robson Conceicao, who went on to win Olympic gold four years later, before losing a controversial decision to former world amateur champion Domenico Valentino. He then claimed Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow in 2014 before turning professional, where he has claimed first IBF, then WBA world titles while winning the World Boxing Super Series.
I want to achieve more in the sport, I want to win more titles, keep Scotland on the map, have these big fights in Scotland, these big fights in America. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. Today at 2:30 pm ET streaming live on ESPN+ in the United States and airing on BT Sport in the United Kingdom, Josh Taylor is back to defend two title belts at 140 pounds against challenger Apinun Khongsong. The 29-year-old Taylor is putting the WBA and IBF belts on the line, with an eye toward a future undisputed title fight against WBC/WBO titlist Jose Ramirez, which could happen in 2021. Josh Taylor primed for next chapter of career as he discusses Apinun Khongsong threat and working with new trainer Ben Davison World champion is back in ring tonight after almost a year on sidelines Josh Taylor lays his titles on the line tonight at an empty York Hall.
World champion boxer Josh Taylor is preparing to enter uncharted territory tonight when he laces up the gloves for the first time in 11 months. Not only is the undefeated super lightweight about to embark on a first defence of his WBA and IBF belts he won last October, the 29-year-old will fight Thailand's Apinun Khongsong in an eerily quiet York Hall, with no fans permitted inside the London-based venue due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The duel against mandatory challenger Khongsong, another boxer with an unblemished professional record of 16 wins, will also be Taylor's first as a Top Rank prodigy after he severed ties with former promoter Barry McGuigan and trainer Shane McGuigan in January. Taylor hopes to continue his dominance in the 140lbs division under the watchful eye of new coach Ben Davison, the individual credited for not only rebuilding Tyson Fury boxing career but the man himself following his battle with mental health. Prestonpans native Taylor knows only too well the importance of continuity when ringside – he has former Lochend and amateur mentor Terry McCormack in his corner still to this day – but he believes he has found the perfect blend with 27-year-old Davison. "Nothing is going to be any different tonight so I don't read too much into having changed coaches," Taylor said. "I know everything has been up in the air this year with Covid but, in some ways, I think it has worked in my favour as it has given me a little bit more time to work with Ben. We clicked straight away so it's been good. It's probably been my first real break since I turned professional over five years ago so I've had the chance to take stock of what I have achieved so far while focusing on what lies ahead." Taylor was due to face Khongsong at Glasgow's SSE Hydro at the beginning of May, only for that to be shelved due to the rise in cases of Covid-19. The enforced break has afforded both Taylor and Khongsong ample time to hone their skills ahead of tonight's contest, which will be broadcast live on BT Sport. Taylor has also had to fend off suggestions his focus is beyond this weekend and the much-talked about and mouth-watering unification bout against WBC and WBO champion Jose Ramirez. "I cannot afford to take my eye off him [Khongsong] – that would be very dangerous," he said of his rival, who will fight outside of Asia for the first time in his career. I knew what was at stake when I was coming through the ranks with the opponents I was facing and the opportunities that were ahead if I won. Of course I would like the chance to become undisputed champion, but talk of that can only happen if I get past tonight first. "Khongsong's got good timing and lures his opponents in. I want to achieve more in the sport and win more titles, have these big fights in America and keep Scotland on the map." In-demand Davison no longer looks after world heavyweight champion Fury after the pair parted ways last year. The Essex-based trainer, who has recently added Edinburgh British and Commonwealth bantamweight champion Lee McGregor to his stable, said it has been a joy to work with Taylor. "Josh came to me in a completely different mindset to that of Tyson," Davison said. But Josh knows what he wants to achieve. But I feel like we've worked out the best way for Josh to develop even further and I'm delighted with the progress we've made. Josh still has a lot to achieve in his career and he's just coming to his peak. Josh Taylor ended 2019 a unified world super-lightweight champion and began this year by signing with promotional giant Top Rank. Tonight he returns in the basic surroundings of York Hall in east London, with an audience mostly made up of television technicians and officials as he puts his WBA and IBF titles — unified with victory over Regis Prograis at the O2 arena in October — on the line against Apinun Khongsong, a little-known Thai boxer.