Josh Taylor left Apinun Khongsong folded up in pain from a body shot in the first round to retain his WBA-IBF world super lightweight titles at a crowdless York Hall in East London, England, Saturday.
Taylor dug a short left to the body to clinch the victory after just 2 minutes, 41 seconds of the first round, and leave Khongsong coiled up in agony for a sustained period of time.
“That sunk right in,” Taylor said.
“I pressed in against him, he threw a right, and I hit him with a left and I felt it sinking in.”
Victory for Taylor sets up the prospect of a unification title fight against Carlos Ramirez, the WBC-WBO champion, for all four major word title bouts next year.
Those hoping to see Taylor-Ramirez in 2021 need not have worried about the threat posed to Taylor in his first fight of 2020. Taylor, from Edinburgh, Scotland, annihilated his IBF mandatory challenger from Thailand, who took a few minutes to get to his feet and left the ring on a stretcher.
Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs), 29, made a second defence of the IBF belt, and first of the WBA title, after points victories over Ivan Baranchyk and Regis Prograis last year. Due to coronavirus restrictions, Taylor took a significant step forward in his career at an empty venue and a clash with Ramirez will be one of the biggest boxing events of 2021, crowd or no crowd.
Taylor, known as the Tartan Tornado, hopes Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs) is next after the Californian successfully outpointed Ukrainian Viktor Postol last month.
“I want Ramirez next 100%,” Taylor said. “He’s unbeaten like myself, but I feel I can perform better than him. I want that fight now, and I will whip his ass all day long. I’ve not seen anything from him I’ve not seen before.
“I would rather wait for the fans to be back because it’s one of the biggest fights for boxing with all the belts on the line on these shores or in America.”
However, the WBO governing body has ordered Ramirez to instead face Taylor’s fellow Briton Jack Catterall (25-0, 13 KOs) next.
“Hopefully we can get that worked out, I feel I deserve the Ramirez fight next for all the belts, I’ve never ducked anybody or any fight,” Taylor said.
Khongsong (16-1, 13 KOs), 24, had not fought outside his native Thailand or Japan, but despite his lack of experience, he arrived with an impressive KO record after stopping his previous six opponents.
Taylor even reckons he is one of the biggest punchers he has faced based on the few punches the Thai landed before getting knocked out.
“I would even say that’s the heaviest puncher I’ve been in with, he came out straight away with a stiff jab, and I felt the weight of it straight away,” Taylor said.
Taylor, who switched promoters to join Top Rank’s Bob Arum earlier this year, was working with trainer Ben Davison for the first time.
“It was a lovely shot but I would have loved to have shown what we have been working on in the gym,” Taylor said.
On the undercard, former world flyweight champion Charlie Edwards was given a tough fight by fellow Englishman Kyle Williams in a 99-91 points decision.
Edwards (16-1, 6 KOs), 27, from Croydon in South London, was too cute for Williams (11-3, 3 KOs), from Wolverhampton, for most of the 10 rounds in a bantamweight contest, but he did take some solid shots.
It was the first step of a new chapter for Edwards, after moving from promoter Eddie Hearn to Frank Warren’s stable and deciding to step up in weight.
There might not have been any fans, but Edwards was just grateful to box again, 13 months after his reign as WBC world flyweight champion came to an end in a second defense in controversial circumstances. Moments after it was announced Edwards had lost by third round knockout to Julio Cesar Martinez, the WBC changed the outcome to a no contest as Martinez had clearly hit Edwards while he was already down on a knee.
But the outcome did not matter for Edwards, who could not make the flyweight limit any more.
Although this fight was at bantamweight, Edward plans on campaigning at junior bantamweight.
“I don’t believe I’m a bantamweight just yet, I’m going to be fighting at super flyweight, but it was nice to shake off some ring rust against a good opponent, he was no mug,” Edwards said.
Edwards, brother of junior bantamweight contender Sunny, got his jab going in the second round and was the smarter boxer throughout. However, Williams tired and succeeded to disrupt Edwards at times, and in the third caught the former world champion with some solid shots.
Edwards’ movement ensured Williams could not get close very often, and the Londoner landed a good right hand in the final moments of the fourth.
But Edwards could not sustain any authority and in the fifth was almost knocked off his feet by a swinging right. Williams caught Edwards with more rights in the fifth and sixth, but Edwards’ movement and boxing ensured he got the decision.
Ionut Baluta pulled off a big shock by halting David Oliver Joyce in the third round at super-bantamweight, crushing the Irish boxer’s world title hopes.
Joyce (12-2, 9 KOs), 33, was floored by a left hook in the third round, and when he got to his feet was on wobbly legs and Spain-based Romanian Baluta (14-2, 3 KOs) capitalized to force the stoppage.