WBA and IBF junior welterweight champion Josh ‘The Tartan Tornado’ Taylor 16-0 (12) will return to the ring against IBF mandatory contender Apinun Khongsong 16-0 (13) at the BT Sport Studio in London on September 26 broadcast live on ESPN+ in the United States and BT Sport in the UK.
The fight was originally scheduled to take place on May 2 in Glasgow, Scotland before the global coronavirus pandemic scotched the bout.
Southpaw Taylor, 29, had a breakout year in 2019, defeating Ivan Baranchyk and Regis Prograis to win the World Boxing Super Series and lift the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Thailand’s Khongsong, 24, is a rugged brawler with heavy hands who has knocked out his last six opponents, including former world title challenger Akihiro Kondo last February.
“I’m excited to be back in the ring after a long layoff. The coronavirus had put everything on hold for a few months, so it’s been nice to be in the gym again and back to some normality,” Taylor said.
“I didn’t want a warm-up fight, so getting straight back in there against my mandatory challenger is great, as it’s kept me fully focused. I want big fights in my career, so this is an important fight with my belts on the line.
“Training has been going well and I’m feeling fit and strong. I’ve watched a fair bit of my opponent and I’ve seen his strengths and weaknesses, and I’m very confident going into this fight. I can’t wait.”
This will be Taylor’s first fight since signing with MTK Global and Top Rank earlier this year. The plan is to match Taylor with WBC and WBO 140-pound champion Jose Carlos Ramirez 25-0 (17) in a four-belt unification bout later this year.
To make that happen, American Ramirez, 28, will have to get past tough Ukrainian Viktor Postol 31-2 (12) at ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this Saturday night.
“Josh Taylor is on a collision course to a fight for the undisputed title, but he must first get past a very tough Thai fighter in Khongsong,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.
“We are delighted that Josh’s talents will be shown live to ESPN+ and BT Sport viewers, and I expect a spectacular performance come Sept. 26.”
Jamie Conlan, VP of MTK Global, Taylor’s management company, said: “I am delighted to see the best fighter in the 140-pound division back in action. Josh has used the pandemic to his own advantage, using the layoff to spend more time with his new coach, Ben Davison, and building a relationship together.
“Khongsong provides a real tough test as he’s the mandatory for a reason, undefeated and a big puncher. Josh really needs to be on his game to keep the big fight with Jose Ramirez in the pipeline.”
Undercard details will follow in due course.