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Satori in Las Vegas

By Robert Ecksel on September 28, 2020


Bob Arum watched Taylor-Khongsong from his home in Las Vegas. (Photo: Robert Ecksel)

Saturday’s main event streamed live on ESPN+ from York Hall in London between Josh Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs), the WBA/IBF junior welterweight champion from Edinburgh, Scotland, and previously undefeated mandatory challenger Apinun Khongsong (16-1, 13 KOs), from Bangkok, Thailand, wasn’t worth the price of admission.


Little more than two and half minutes had elapsed since the opening bell when Taylor landed a body shot from which Khongsong never recovered. He failed to beat the count. He also failed to convince anyone that he belonged in the ring against an opponent of Taylor’s caliber.


No one dislikes mismatches more than hardcore fight fans. They can usually smell a stinker a mile away. But Taylor-Khongsong, despite efforts to legitimize the matchmaking in advance of the bout, didn’t appear competitive even on paper.


Despite having won two minor IBF titles and having gone unbeaten since his debut in 2016, in addition to knocking out the last six men he faced, the combined record of the men Khongsong defeated was an unimpressive 183-130-20. But money talks, even if it’s gibberish as often as not.


A potential unification bout in 2021 against undefeated WBC/WBO junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez may materialize, especially since Ramirez, like Taylor, is also promoted by Top Rank.


“I want Ramirez next 100%,” said Taylor. “He's unbeaten like myself, but I feel I can perform better than him. I want that fight now, and I will whip his ass all day long. I've not seen anything from him I've not seen before.


“Hopefully we can get that worked out. I feel I deserve the Ramirez fight next for all the belts. I've never ducked anybody or any fight.”


Top Rank’s honcho, Bob Arum, watched the Taylor-Khongsong mismatch from his home in Las Vegas, and judging from his remarks, he was more displeased than self-aware.


“It’s a f*cking disgrace!” Arum told Boxing Scene.


Seemingly unaware who his champions are fighting and adopting a stance that frees him of all responsibility, he said, “I’m not taking any grief. I will wage a public battle. I am not going to allow a business that I have been in, the boxing business, for over 50 years be destroyed by these organizations,” referring to the sanctioning bodies that okayed the match and with whom Arum has been happily dealing forever.


Those inclined to make excuses for the bout described the left to the body that ended it as a picture-perfect knockout shot. Arum, however, does not agree.


“It wasn’t spectacular,” he said. “The poor guy, a minute later he might have gotten killed. The guy never was in with a world class fighter.”


Insofar as a possible unification match with Ramirez is concerned, Arum said, “Of course that didn’t get Taylor ready for Ramirez. It was a waste of time! A waste of time and money, and I can say woe is me because who paid for this? I did. But I didn’t really pay for it; ESPN paid for it but we had to pay to get that fight on. What a waste!”


Woe is me, too, having to listen to Arum rant and rave about that which he is well aware and from which he has handsomely benefitted. He knows the system. He is the system. The mismatches he has foisted on the public over the years are legion. And while shucking any responsibility for the woeful state of the game and its dwindling fan base, he’s telling those who cover the sport, in a masterful deflection, what they should write about.


Chutzpah, thy name is Bob Arum.

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