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Josh Taylor doubts Jose Carlos Ramirez fight will happen without a live crowd

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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WBA and IBF junior welterweight champion Josh ‘The Tartan Tornado’ Taylor 16-0 (12) doesn’t believe a fight with WBC and WBO 140-pound champion Jose Carlos Ramirez 26-0 (17) will take place without a live gate.

The 29-year-old Scottish southpaw is set to defend his unified championship against hard-hitting Thai Apinun Khongsong 16-0 (13) behind closed doors at York Hall in London on Saturday night.

Taylor signed with US promotional powerhouse Top Rank following his win over previously undefeated American Regis Prograis in the final of the World Boxing Super Series last year.

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The deal was expected to lead to a four-belt unification bout with Ramirez this year before the global coronavirus pandemic hit and boxing on hold for a number of months. The fight is still on the table but is now unlikely to happen until 2021.

Before that can happen, Taylor must first get past IBF mandatory Khongsong.

“I have big, massive fights coming up and we need the fans back for them,” Taylor said to the Daily Star.

“It’s like going to a birthday party with the balloons popped. It’s just not the same.

“The fans is what make the night, the most memorable nights are when the atmosphere is incredible.

“When that balloon is burst it is shit.”

Top Rank boss Bob Arum is open to the fight taking place in either Scotland or the US.

“That is the aim for Josh and we would hope to be open for his army of Scottish supporters whether that fight takes place in Edinburgh or Las Vegas,” he said.

The fight against Khongsong, 24, will be Taylor’s first outing with new coach Ben Davison, who was instrumental in rejuvenating Tyson Fury’s career following the heavyweight’s long layoff and blow-up in weight.

He says as good as Taylor is, there is still room for improvement.

“I do think he can continue to improve,” Davison said.

“He has had some phenomenal wins and performances but sometimes he has taken shots that he hasn’t needed to take or made fights a little bit harder than he has needed to.

“People have an assumption that I’m a defence-minded coach, that’s not right but I don’t want to see a fighter take shots that he doesn’t have to take.

“I want Josh to remain as offensive and as in control of a fight that you usually see him but just by exerting less energy, taking less shots.

“That’s the key element. Look at Canelo Alvarez, a few years ago people would have said ‘Can he get any better?’ but he’s still improving.”

Earlier this week Taylor insisted he was not overlooking Khongsong.

“We’ve prepared for this by sparring in my new gym at home in Scotland with no noise, no shouting. So it will not seem all that strange,” Taylor said.

“I’m taking this fight seriously. And although Khongsong seems like a nice guy there will be no friendship in the ring. Just spite.”

Khongsong has promised to win the fight within the scheduled 12-round distance.

“I am happy to fight here and being behind closed doors is good for me because there will be no people and boxing fans,” he said.

“I am very proud to fight Josh Taylor because he is a very good champion. I have prepared very well to fight him on Saturday. The plan is to stop Josh Taylor by knockout.”

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