2:30pm ET on ESPN+ Josh Taylor defends his unified IBF and WBA Championship versus Apinan Khongsong
“The Tartan Tornado” Scotland’s unified 140 lb. champion ends his 11 month lay off to face his IBF #1 contender Khongsong of Thailand. The Thai contender’s name may not seem recognizable because it is not, he has not fought on US TV and I doubt has been featured in the UK or European market. He is the number 1 for the IBF though peering through his record on Boxrec.com and scanning the IBF top 15 contenders I am not sure how he acquired such a high ranking. On paper the pair are a mirror image at 5’10” and 178 cm. reach and sport records of 16-0 with Taylor stopping 12 of his opponents and Khongsong stopping 13. That is where the comparisons end as their current career snapshots come into focus. Taylor unified titles in his last contest versus American Regis Prograis in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series last October. In a phenomenal fight Taylor cemented his victory with a bloodied and bruised eye outworking Prograis to a competitive but clear decision victory. Taylor has wins over several world champions and enters his fourth consecutive contest with an undefeated fighter, his opponents combined records since 2018 sit at 140-4-5(including Khongsong. Taylor is a fast opponent with a high work rate and proven toughness at the highest level. He should be viewed as an obvious favorite against such a young unproven fighter.
At the time of my writing this highlight video has 260 views which I think puts into clearer focus just how much of an unknown Khongsong is heading into the opportunity of a lifetime. Khongsong’s crowning achievement in his young career is a fifth round knockout of Akihiro Kondo in his backyard of Japan. From the above highlights Khongsong dispatches his opponents with the viciousness expected of a young puncher against overmatched opponents. Kondo is the best example we have to gauge him by as he is the only known foe on his ledger. Kondo competed in a WBA title fight with Sergey Lipiniets in 2017 and made the distance in a spirited effort and won several rounds. Khongsong used his size and understanding of range to keep Kondo at bay. He showed patience and poise for a guy who is used to knocking his opponents over. He stuck behind and jab and a chopping right hand that he delivered with torque. He threw a counter hook leaning his weight back to his right foot and generated a lot of power that could be seen even when he missed. He fought confidently with his back to the ropes and is a big man for the weight, I do not have a list of his fight night weights but he is big for the weight. He also put his left hook behind his right hand a lot like Bob Foster used to do and the sneaky hook can be a knockout shot. His uppercut shocked Kondo in the fifth and snapped him upward like a scarecrow and bounced the back of his head off the canvas. Kondo had no shot of beating the count. I like the patience and poise but he seems slow and ponderous at times and the lack of experience is tough to go by. His conditioning is another mark on him as we don’t have 12 round sample sizes to go by. He does remind me a little of Jaime Mungia for those familiar with the Mexican middleweight ex 154 lb. titlist. For Taylor he did lose trainer Barry McGuigan for Ben Davidson of Tyson Fury fame.
On the undercard former WBC Flyweight Champion Charlie Edwards tries to shake off a recent embarrassment against Julio Cesar Martinez where he was originally ruled knocked out in the third round. Edwards saw the result overturned in the ring when it was shown he was hit with a body shot that had him wreathing in pain and unable to return to his feet. It would seem like the right call though the action in the ring in the near nine minutes favored Martinez who appeared to be on the verge of ending the night early. Edwards dropped the belt and moved up in weight. He faces 11-2 domestic level Kyle Williams in what should be a showcase type of victory.
3:00pm ET on DAZN the World Boxing Super Series and IBF Cruiserweight Title Tilt Between Yuniel Dorticos and Mairis Briedis
After several cancellations cruiserweight finally gets the big fight fans have been waiting on. Cruiserweight is a weight class that has consistently produced high level match ups over the last few years. The World Boxing Super Series is making its second stop through the crowded division after running the same tournament a few years early culminating in the unification of all four title belts around Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine. Usyk moved up and fractured the title picture and in the wake of the vacancy the WBSS once again formed another tournament of top level cruiserweights to fill the void. With the last two finalists now competing as heavyweights the road has cleared for Dorticos and Briedis to square off in a high stakes battle.
Both combatants enter with a loss a piece against each of the previous finalists of the previous tournament. Dorticos was stopped by the hard punching Murat Gassiev in the semi finals after a close fight resulted in a brutal final round knockout. Briedis fell in the semi finals to Usyk in a majority decision after giving Usyk the toughest night of his career. Heading into this bout Dorticos is coming off of a crushing tenth round knockout of undefeated American Andrew Tabiti.
In addition to these victories the hard hitting Cuban has also stopped world class puncher Dmitry Kudryashov and the tough Congolese Youri Kayembre Kalenga. Dorticos is a tough and proven fighter heading into his first title fight and first fight since last June.
Briedis is a tough Latvian fighter with an imposing style and knockout power. At 6’1″ Mairis attracted attention in the prospect phase of his career giving up 30 pounds to a 245 lb. world heavyweight title challenger in Manuel Charr having moved up from the 200 lb. limit of cruiserweight. Briedis knocked Charr out in the fifth round mirroring the result only equaled by Alexander Povetkin who is a known heavyweight puncher. Briedis can keep up with elite level operators as shown against Usyk and can go into the trenches and even fight dirty if he has to. He got physical with Mike Perez and former WBO champion Marco Huck in ugly but dominant wins where he mauled the more experienced fighters over the distance. He also has an impressive knockout over tough and hard hitting Nigerian Olanrewaju Durodola but his best win was his most previous fight. Marred in some controversy Briedis knocked out former WBO champion Krzysztof Glowacki of Poland in the third round of their contest. Glowacki was hit by an elbow and stunned badly and given little time to recover. He was dropped soon after as the second round finished. In the opening of the third Glowacki still seemed buzzed by the foul and onslaught was promptly stopped quickly for Briedis to secure the WBO title. However, in the fall out Glowacki pressured the WBO to get a rematch and it threatened the tournament. Faced with rematching Glowacki at the expense of the final, Briedis dumped the belt to face Dorticos.
7:00pm ET on Showtime PPV Five titles at stake headlined by the Charlo twins
The Charlo brothers enter the next phase of their respective careers as they headline a PPV event for Showtime. The two have been regular staples of FOX cards and SHO non PPV events but are being hoisted into the PPV spotlight this weekend and are in two very interesting matchups. Jermall Charlo defends his WBC Middleweight thrown while Jermell seeks to unify three titles at 154 lbs. WBC, IBF, and WBA.
Jermall is aiming to stake his claim as the man to beat at middleweight. Middleweight is in an interesting crossroads as Charlo was awarded his title when the WBC dubiously elevated Canelo Alvarez to “Franchise Champion” which I don’t have enough time to complain about. Alvarez has not fought at middleweight since May and has fought two of his last three over the 160 lb. limit and is in discussing fights with Yildirim, Saunders and Smith who all reside north of middleweight. Golovkin is closing in on 40 and looks to be on the slide after barely scraping by Derevyanchenko in his previous fight and stepping back in competition against Rolls and his next fight is against a cupcake. GGG seems only interested in revenge against Canelo and does not appear driven to fight a young puncher like Charlo. This opens a huge lane for Charlo to take in seizing on the vacancy at the weight class and legitimizing his claim as a titlist.
Charlo is a fighter I have been slow to hop on the bandwagon for. He is 30 and a pro since 2008 but has not made the big statement yet in his career to prove he is in the class of Alvarez or Golovkin whom he has called out on social media for apparently dodging him. In my estimation he hasn’t accomplished anything quite exciting enough at 160 to garner the pull to make such claims. In fact his win over Korobov was controversial in the eyes of many observers including myself who scored it for Korobov. Outside of that you have Hogan who moved up, Heiland whose knee gave out, Centeno Jr, and Adams. Hardly murderers row but in most cases he did handle business accordingly.
Sergiy Derevyanchenko is a very live opponent and probably the most dangerous opponent on paper for Charlo ahead of a contest. Derevyanchenko has been a force in the division since 2016 following an early stoppage over former title holder Sam Soliman. He really came on to the scene with a punishing victory over highly regarded and highly ranked WBC contender Tureano Johnson. There was a time when Johnson was the top ranked guy with the WBC and a title shot seemed inevitable but that all ended with Derevyanchenko. Sergiy punished Johnson round after round until the pressure wilted Johnson in the 12th, a TKO victory while ahead by 9 to 11 points on each judges card. Derevyanchenko fought Golovkin and Jacobs in nip tuck battles where he hit the canvas early but pushed on to fight close on the cards. I felt Jacobs defeated Derevyanchenko by one point and that Sergiy deserved the victory over Golovkin which I scored his way by a point.
I think key factors here are reach and height which favor Charlo along with power. Charlo hurts his opponents, even with Korobov he stunned him in the final round. For Derevyanchenko you could argue he is on even keel with GGG and Jacobs and that Charlo has not proven to be on their level. Last September however Derevyanchenko was hurt badly against Jack Culcay who is not known for his punching power. I get the impression that Charlo is going to be stifled by world class movers and counter punchers, especially ones that match his physical attributes. Derevyanchenko can bring the heat but is going to be in Charlo’s range all night. This is going to be an interesting fight!
Jermell Charlo is coming off a statement knockout over Tony Harrison to regain his WBC title and is immediately looking to take over the division by taking on Jeison Rosario. This fight pits two dangerous punchers together in an exciting division. While Charlo was taking part in a series with Harrison, the titles around the division changed hands as Jarret Hurd unified the IBF and WBA by defeating Erislandy Lara in a fight of the year type of fight. Hurd seemed to lay an egg in his backyard when he lost a decision to Julian Williams who had been best known for being knocked out cold by Jermall Charlo. Williams was then destroyed by Rosario in five rounds to get us to where we are today. Is Rosario a flash in the pan, a temporary place holder for a bigger name; or is he going to shock Charlo in his coming out party?
Bonus Material: Heavyweight Prospect Filip Hrgovic back in action
I know I said 3 cards this weekend but I had to include this as well. Sure it is a walk over match up but Hrgovic is rated in three of the main sanctioning bodies after only ten professional fights and an Olympic Bronze in Brazil. Many hardcore fans tips this heavyweight to be the man in the years to come. We shall see, if you get a chance find this fight Sunday on Youtube or Dailymotion on one of the many next day uploads. I do not see a TV station listed on Boxrec so most readers probably cannot watch this live but I encourage every one to check it out.