Taylor to defend titles vs. Khongsong on May 2


Josh Taylor is heading home to Scotland to fight for the first time since unifying two junior welterweight world titles.

Taylor will defend against mandatory challenger‎ Apinun Khongsong on May 2 (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, Top Rank announced Thursday. Taylor will headline at the arena for the fifth time.

The bout will be Taylor’s first since unifying 140-pound belts by majority decision against Regis Prograis in a contender for fight of the year in the final of the eight-man World Boxing Super Series in October in London. The fight will also be Taylor’s first fight since signing with Top Rank on Jan. 9.

“Josh Taylor is a truly special fighter who is set on becoming the undisputed 140-pound champion in 2020,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. “I have no doubt he will put on a sensational performance for his home fans. I can’t wait for ‘The Tartan Tornado’ to return.”

One of the reasons Taylor signed with Top Rank was for the opportunity for an eventual undisputed world title fight against fellow two-belt titleholder and new Top Rank stablemate Jose Ramirez later in the year. But first up is the mandatory defense.

“I am super excited to kick-start the new year with a fresh start and with a new team,” Taylor said. “It’s great to have the teams at [management company] MTK Global, Queensberry Promotions and Top Rank in my corner, and I’m delighted to be fighting on BT Sport [in the United Kingdom] and ESPN+, and even more so that this is happening in Scotland in front of a home crowd who have waited so long for this. I can’t wait to get the ball rolling with putting on a great performance.”

Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, which has close ties to Top Rank, with whom it co-promotes heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury, will co-promote the event.

“I am delighted that we are able to be part of bringing Josh Taylor to Glasgow at such an important juncture in his career,” Warren said. “Josh is destined for many big fights over in the States, but he has got business to attend to first on the home front, and this presents an opportunity for the Scottish fans to really get behind their man in huge world title action.”

Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs), 29, knocked out Ryan Martin in the seventh round of the World Boxing Super Series quarterfinals in November 2018 and then outpointed Ivan Baranchyk to take his world title in the semifinals last May before unifying two belts against Prograis in the final.

Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs), 23, of Thailand, is an unknown, having fought 15 of his fights in his home country, one in Japan and having faced extremely low-level opposition. Top Rank secured the promotional rights when Khongsong co-promoter Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing defaulted on his winning purse bid of $1.32 million. Top Rank was the underbidder at $1.26 million and took over the rights to the bout.

Under Top Rank’s bid, the split is 65-35 in Taylor’s favor, meaning he is entitled to $819,000 — although he will be paid more because he has a higher minimum purse in his promotional contract — and Khongsong $441,000.

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