Rex Tso keeping his feet on the ground
Hong Kong's 'Wonder Kid' has a remarkable record of never having been knocked down in a fight ahead of Sunday's bout with Muay Thai convert
Hong Kong's "Wonder Kid", Rex Tso Sing-yu, will be out not only to extend his unbeaten professional record when he takes on Thai fighter Susu Sithjadeang on the undercard of The Clash in Cotai, he wants to preserve another envious record: not being knocked down in a fight.
"Yes, that's true. For some reason, I have never been knocked out or knocked down in around 50 amateur fights and 10 professional fights. I did once get hit in the stomach real hard during training and that hurt!" said 26-year-old Tso, who is 10-0-0, 6 KOs. "I have been struck hard in training, but never been floored in competition. I don't really know why."
Rex's trainer, Jay Lau Chi-yuen, knows why. "He's had proper training and Rex isn't afraid to stand there with his guard up and take the punches, no matter how big his opponent is," said Lau.
"Rex has never been knocked down in the ring. In training, we put him up against a big sparring partner so he receives punishment and he knows how to defend himself. When Rex was a trainer at DEF, he trained a lot of big guys. Those guys might not have really good skills but they are big. Rex would stand there and take all the punches.
"One of his clients, Angelo, is 96kg and punches Rex hard but Rex took all the blows. That's how he started to get a hard chin. The second thing is when he fought as an amateur, he already had a professional style whereby he would keep his hands up and push his opponent into the corner and let them have it. He's trying to learn how to take the punches and not trying to avoid the punches.
"I have encouraged him to stand there, take the punishment because I told him, 'You can take it'. You are not really born with a strong chin but he trained to have a strong one," said the trainer.
Tso enters his 11th professional fight over six rounds in the super flyweight contest with a degree of trepidation, not really knowing what his 22-year-old opponent, Susu (7-3, 2 KOs), is capable of.
"I have always said it is not easy to compete against a young and dangerous fighter like Susu because you don't know how much improvement he has made over the last four months," said trainer Lau.
"You cannot say, 'Oh, I saw his last fight on video four months ago'. You can't assume he is going to fight like that after four months. Even Rex changes his style a little bit now and then and he keeps improving.
"This Thai opponent has never fought outside of Thailand and now he is on the undercard of a Manny Pacquiao bout. He is going to be training like crazy and he's going to be really aggressive because he thinks he has been given a once-in-a-lifetime chance fighting on the undercard of a Pacquiao fight.
"Let's not forget that Susu has had 45 Muay Thai professional fights. He was a Muay Thai fighter before he turned to boxing two years ago so he is quite experienced," said Lau.
Tso is not unduly worried by Susu (1171/2 pounds at the weigh-in). He says he is ready for the encounter. "I have trained for two months for this, including long, gruelling sessions in the Philippines and of course in General Santos City, where I trained with Freddie Roach [Pacquiao's trainer]," said Tso, who weighed 118 pounds at Saturday's weigh-in.
"Probably the most difficult thing for me was trying to bring my weight down to 118, because I weighed almost 130 about four weeks ago. My weight increased after I did some weight training to strengthen my arms and shoulders in the Philippines. Putting on muscle has helped me burn calories fast though. My metabolism has increased substantially and I feel stronger. It has been a bit difficult to keep the weight down, but I made it and I am ready to put up a good show," said Rex.
The Hong Kong champion said fighting in the morning would not be a problem for him since he is an early riser.
"I usually begin the day at 5am. I would have my breakfast and go for a jog before hitting the gym. My fight is the third or fourth one of the card so it's not going to be that early. I will be comfortable fighting in the morning. Most of the excitement and nervousness come from waiting for the fight. I'm very confident of winning because I put in all the effort and determination to get ready," he said.
Watch: Hong Kong's first ever professional boxer, the undefeated Rex Tso