AUTHOR: Star Sports Content


Taylor vs Khonsong: Preview

After eleven months out of the ring, Josh Taylor returns this weekend against the largely unknown but dangerous Apinun Khongsong. Undefeated Taylor will walk to the ring for the first time as the unified WBA & IBF Super Lightweight Champion and he will be looking to deal with his mandatory challenger in convincing fashion.

The rise of Josh Taylor has been nothing short of incredible. After being eliminated at the Olympics in 2012, the Scottish hero turned professional and has since taken the paid code by storm. He now stands as the unified champion at 140lb which coincidentally, is one of the fiercest divisions in the entire sport.

Taylor unified the division by beating Regis Prograis last year in a fight that will be remembered for years to come. The fight was nip and tuck throughout the twelve rounds with both men performing to their absolute maximum. That performance catapulted ‘The Tartan Tornado’ to a whole new level and it is worth noting that he has achieved all this in just sixteen professional contests.

His opponent this weekend, Apinun Khongsong hails from Thailand and he is undefeated himself in sixteen outings. With thirteen of his sixteen wins coming by way of knockout, he clearly the carries enough power to warrant respect from the champion. However, he has never operated at anywhere near the level of Taylor and he has never fought for more than six rounds. Whether he can make this jump remains a mystery, but he has worked himself into a mandatory position and he deserves his chance in the spotlight. If he can win this weekend, he will change his career and his life forever.

The mystery surrounding the challenger adds a fascinating subplot to this fight. While many expect Taylor to come through unscathed, it is a fight that holds a lot of risk and very little reward for the Scotsman. He is facing a fighter in Khongsong that has everything to gain, he is almost expected to travel to the UK and be beaten convincingly and anything else would be bonus for him and Taylor will need to be switched on to avoid any upsets.

This will also be the first fight for Taylor under the tutelage of Ben Davison and under the banner of Top Rank Promotions. Taylor split with his long-term trainer Shane McGuigan in the aftermath of his win against Prograis and joined forces with Davison, who has been in the corner for Tyson Fury and Billy Joe Saunders, in the past. As with every new partnership, there will be a period of settling in and it will up to Josh Taylor to prove that leaving his long-time trainer was the correct decision.

There are a lot of red flags in this contest that suggest this could be a banana skin for Taylor but he has been faultless in his career to this point and he has stated during fight week that he has taken this challenge very seriously. We may not see the very best version of the champion here as he shakes off some ring rust, but should he register win number seventeen, he will set up some huge fights heading into 2021.

Predictably, Taylor starts as a huge favourite so it’s the method of victory markets that provide the value here. Khongsong is relatively unknown and carries obvious power so Taylor may take a couple of rounds to work out his opponent without taking too much risk. But, as the fight wears on, the class of Josh Taylor should begin to shine through, and he should end this one around the halfway point.

Recommended Bets
Taylor to win between rounds 4-6. 1pt @ 12/5

Briedis vs Dorticos Preview

After the recent global pandemic forced the fight to be cancelled twice in recent months, Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos will finally face off in the World Boxing Super Series Final this Saturday to reveal who is the best cruiserweight on the planet. This fight has been highly anticipated by everyone in the sport for a long time and although Briedis starts as the pre-fight favourite, this is very much a fight in the balance.

Both fighters are classy operators, but they are both now in their 30s and will understand this could be their final opportunity to reign supreme in a division that is stacked with emerging talent. With this in mind, these two will be ready to leave it all in the ring this weekend which suggests fans are in for a real treat.

Briedis was the first Latvian to ever win a world title and is a highly talent, well-seasoned competitor in both the amateur and professional ranks. He has campaigned at the very top of the cruiserweight division for several years now and has amassed a record of 26-1 (19KO). His sole defeat came at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk in the first season of the WBSS but with Usyk now campaigning at heavyweight, Briedis will be keen to prove he is the cruiserweight king in waiting.

As for Yuniel Dorticos, he hails from the famous Cuban school of amateur boxing. Cuba has consistently produced top tier boxers and Dorticos is another supreme talent from the Cuban conveyor belt. Nicknamed ‘The KO Doctor’ he has notched up a record of 24-1 (22KO). His ferocious power has earned him a reputation as one of the biggest punchers in the sport.

Like Briedis, Dorticos has experienced just one defeat in his eleven-year professional career. That defeat came against Murat Gassiev, where he was stopped in the 10th round but Gassiev himself is considered a huge puncher and the performances of Dorticos since that defeat, suggest the Cuban has used it as motivation to become a better fighter. Regardless of how we decide to evaluate this version of Dorticos, one thing is for certain, he will have no intentions of allowing this fight to go the distance.

On all known form and statistics, this is a genuine 50/50 clash. Briedis is perhaps the more well-rounded boxer and he also has superior experience over the championship distance of twelve rounds, so if this fight does go to the scorecards, you would have to favour the Latvian. To balance this out, Dorticos has proven that he can end a fight in the blink of an eye and if he was to win this one by knockout, it would be no real surprise. All of these variables make this fight a fascinating prospect but one that is incredibly hard to predict.

It is very tempting when you see a guy like Dorticos starting as the outsider as he has the ability to win the fight at any second and when you combine this with his natural boxing ability being not that inferior to Briedis, he starts to become a very interesting player to have on your side. While you can argue the case for both fighters, as suggested earlier it is certain that both of these fighters will leave everything they have in the ring this weekend and for that reason, the fight not to go the distance at (23/20) could be the smart play here.

Recommended Bets
Fight to not go the distance 2pts @ 23/20
Yuniel Dorticos to win 0.5pts @ 8/5

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
AS DETAILED ABOVE (3.5 points staked)

PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 164.53 points
(Excluding Cheltenham 2021 antepost, Six Nations Outright, Six Nations Specials, Premier League 2020/21 Ante Post)