Unbeaten Rex Tso fights for two titles at Ring of Gold in Macau
Hong Kong star will defend WBC crown and also seek vacant WBO Asia-Pacific super-flyweight belt
Hong Kong star Rex Tso Sing-yu will fight for two titles in February's Ring of Gold tournament at Cotai Arena in Macau.
The unbeaten 26-year-old professional (11-0-0, seven KOs) will make the second defence of his WBC ABCO Asia continental super-flyweight title, and also be out to grab the vacant WBO Asia-Pacific super-flyweight title when he faces Japan's Mako Matsuyama (7-7-1, three KOs) over 10 rounds on February 22.
"The WBO title is one step closer to a [possible] world title. He will be guaranteed a top-15 ranking in the World Boxing Organisation [WBO] if he wins," said Tso's trainer and manager Jay Lau Chi-yuen. "He's ranked 12th on the WBC [World Boxing Council] rankings."
"The WBO is one of the world's big-four boxing organisations and the title would be a step higher than the WBC title he holds. The WBO Asia Pacific vice-president [Leon Panoncillo] actually proposed that Rex fight for this title because they want Hong Kong and Chinese boxers to hold the belt," he said.
Lau said Tso had signed a one-fight deal with Bob Arum's Top Rank organisation and they would try to negotiate a better deal after the February fight.
"Top Rank wanted Rex to sign for four fights this year but all those fights are away from Hong Kong. We thought it would be better to have Rex fight twice a year in Hong Kong to better promote the sport here," said Lau.
"Top Rank wants Rex to fight in Macau, Singapore and even Las Vegas but we need a couple of fights in Hong Kong as well because otherwise we won't be able to produce more Hong Kong fighters and expand our stable."
Tso, Hong Kong's first professional fighter, said he was looking forward to returning to the ring for the first time in three months. "I will have trained for five weeks in the Philippines by the time I return to Hong Kong on February 10. I will return to Hong Kong for two days on January 26 to do some promotional work but I then return to finish up my training," said Tso, who will earn US$20,000 for the fight.
"I am excited to be fighting for two titles and I will make sure that I will be in my best shape. It motivates me more to train hard and become a better fighter."
Matsuyama is a natural bantamweight and it is understood Top Rank wanted a bigger fighter to challenge Tso after the Hong Kong fighter's devastating first-round TKO of Thai Susu Sithjadaeng, on the undercard of last November's Clash in Cotai, featuring Manny Pacquiao.
"Bob Arum was impressed by how much Rex improved and wanted to test him against a bigger opponent. Rex has developed more power [in his punches]. The Japanese boxers fight with a lot of heart and he will be an interesting opponent," said Lau.
Ring of Gold will feature three Olympic champions: China's Zou Shiming, Japanese middleweight Ryota Murata and Russian light heavyweight Egor Mekhontsev. Zou (3-0) will headline the event as he goes up against Thailand's Yokthong Kokietgym (15-3, 11 KOs) in an eight-round flyweight bout.
Murata (2-0, 2 KOs) and Mekhontsev (1-0, 1 KO), who both won gold medals at the London Olympics in 2012, have yet to have opponents confirmed.