Khongsong is Taylor’s IBF mandatory challenger
As he expected, Josh Taylor will make his Top Rank debut and first defense as unified IBF/WBA “Super” super lightweight champion on May 2nd, facing IBF mandatory Apinun Khongsong in Glasgow, Scotland. The fight will be Taylor’s fifth at the SSE Hydro in his last six appearances.
Khongsong (16-0, 13 KO), 23, is one of the out-of-nowhere mandatories that regularly crop up in the IBF rankings. He’s fought almost exclusively in his native Thailand, leaving only to knock out former title challenger Akihiro Kondo in hostile territory. Said knockout earned him a crack at Taylor (16-0, 12 KO), but the latter’s unification match with Regis Prograis took precedence.
Khongsong’s promoter, Sampson Boxing, actually outbid Top Rank for control of this fight, only to default on the down payments.
The hope is that an expected Taylor victory will lead to a clash with WBC/WBO champion Jose Ramirez for undisputed status; both men are promoted by Top Rank, so there’s little stopping the powers-that-be from putting it together. Ramirez is currently looking to face his own mandatory, Viktor Postol, on May 9th after coronavirus concerns scrapped their February 1st date, so the timeline works out nicely. It just remains to be seen whether Ramirez’s other mandatory, Jack Catterall, will interfere.