Scotland's world champion Josh Taylor returns to action at the York Hall and our boxing tipster Frankie Monkhouse expects another punch-perfect performance...
"The champion won’t want to stand toe-to-toe with his big-hitting opponent so will stay at range in the early rounds"
Big guns join forces
Fight fans have a mouth-watering evening of championship boxing ahead when big-name promoters Frank Warren at Queensberry Promotions and Bob Arum of Top Rank join forces. The York Hall in Bethnal Green provides a fitting backdrop for the occasion with no fewer than three title fights on the programme, including a world championship bout.
Top of a seven-bout card pairs WBA and IBF super-lightweight champion Josh Taylor and Thailand's Apinun Khongsong over 12 rounds with the two belts up for grabs. Both men are undefeated in their professional careers so far and a competitive contest is expected. Will Scotland's Taylor successfully defend or will the underdog spring a surprise?
Taylor unbeaten in 16
Scotsman Taylor makes his first appearance at the home of British boxing as a professional with a perfect record of 16 wins from as many outings, a dozen of those victories coming inside the distance. The 29-year-old from Edinburgh joined the paid ranks in 2015 following a glittering amateur career and got off to the ideal start with a second-round TKO over American Archie Weah in El Paso.
Easing through the ranks, Josh scored his career-best win when bagging the World Boxing Super Series with a narrow victory over Regis Prograis at the O2 Arena last October. Taylor went into that contest as the underdog but sparkled on the night, clinching a majority decision over the Texas star, inflicting his first career defeat in the process. That result saw Taylor add the WBA strap to the IBF title taken from Russian Ivan Baranchyk in Glasgow the fight before.
Taylor has spoken in the run-up to this bout of his desire to fight at a major venue in Edinburgh and has been assured that's in the pipeline. If he wants to headline at the likes of Easter Road or Edinburgh Castle the Tartan Tornado must hold onto his titles, beating Khongsong in style. He's expected to do just that with Betfair traders offering Taylor at 1/33 in the fight winner market. A third points win on the bounce is 2/1 in the method of victory.
Khongsong arrives on a knockout run
Most boxing fans won't know an awful lot about opponent Khongsong but the away fighter is here on merit and rates as a real danger to Taylor's career. Like the man starting in the opposite corner, Khongsong also brings a perfect 16-fight record and has won 13 by KO/TKO. The fighting pride of Bangkok may not be a famous name in this part of the world but that will all change if he can upset the odds in Bethnal Green.
The 24-year-old made his professional bow in Chiang Mai four years ago with an eye-catching first-round knockout over fellow debutant Pattapol Rajlampang and has gone from strength to strength since. Apinun picked up a few ranking titles along the way and impressed when bagging the IBF Pan Pacific two years ago, a belt he has since defended.
Khongsong comes to the UK having won each of his last six inside the distance and it will be little surprise to see him go on the front foot early and try to catch Taylor cold. The fight winner betting at Betfair has the challenger as a 12/1 underdog with the draw available at 33/1. Carrying a stunning 81% KO average there may be interest on Khongsong by KO/TKO at 17/1.
Champion to box smart
We're likely to see Khongsong attack Taylor early in an attempt to win the champion's respect and prove he's no mere opponent. His record is impressive on paper but not a lot is known about the quality of the men he has been beating. It's worth noting his last two opponents had a combined record of 40 wins against 18 defeats and one draw.
This won't be Taylor's first challenge as a pro and it's hard to believe Khongsong is anywhere near the level of Prograis who was seen as a future pound-for-pound star by many American fans. If you are a lover of boxing, it's easy to appreciate just how good Josh is. He can box and he can fight. He's powerful with both hands and has the footwork to get out of trouble.
The champion won't want to stand toe-to-toe with his big-hitting opponent so will stay at range in the early rounds and build up an advantage on the scorecards. There's value in backing the Brit to win on points again.