Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images
Khongsong knocked out Akihiro Kondo in an eliminator last February
Josh Taylor’s Top Rank debut and first title defense as unified IBF/WBA “super” super lightweight champion will see him face IBF mandatory Apinun Khongsong, whose team has pushed for an immediate purse bid rather than continue negotiations. The respective sides will meet at the IBF offices on January 24th, with Taylor receiving a 65/35 split.
Khongsong (16-0, 13 KO), who also fights under the name Downua Ruawalking, became the IBF mandatory last February by knocking out former title challenger Akihiro Kondo, who had never been stopped in seven previous losses. The fight was his first outside of his native Thailand, where he returned five months later for a stay-busy knockout of 9-11 Yosmar Kefi.
He also served as an alternate for Taylor’s (16-0, 12 KO) WBSS semifinal against Ivan Baranchyk in May.
Taylor will obviously be pursuing a full unification match with Jose Ramirez, with whom he now shares a promoter, but the IBF are sticklers about their mandatories. It just kinda stinks that Khongsong, whose record is empty outside of the Kondo win, gets first crack when Subriel Matias, a far more interesting opponent, won an eliminator last year.
It does keep Taylor busy while Ramirez deals with Viktor Postol, at least.