Bigger, fitter, stronger: Rex Tso promises to deliver the goods against Young Gil-bae
Hong Kong’s ‘Wonder Kid’ is confident of extending his unbeaten record to 19 fights as an improved fighter in Saturday night’s ‘Clash of Champions’ against tough South Korean veteran
Rex Tso Sing-yu knows he has come a long way since he first stepped into the ring as a scrawny, brawling 23-year-old. Not only is he “bigger, fitter, stronger”, but interest in the “Wonder Kid” has increased dramatically since those humble beginnings.
When Tso made his professional debut on September 22, 2011, at the Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Centre only 300 fans showed up and media interest was virtually zero.
For Saturday’s fight, there will be around 3,000 spectators, including the likes of Top Rank chief Bob Arum, Lan Kwai Fong legend Allan Zeman, actor Daniel Wu and Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah. Dozens of media, including from Japan and South Korea, will be covering the bout and the crowd-pleasing Tso can boast more than 38,000 fans on Facebook.
The 28-year-old unbeaten southpaw is determined to not let his fans down as he parades his skills in front of the biggest Hong Kong audience for a boxing event at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre for Saturday night’s main event of “Clash of Champions”.
“Every time I step into the ring, something big always happens. It’s always a big jump,” said Tso ahead of his super flyweight 12-round bout against tough South Korean veteran Young Gil-bae.
“My team [DEF promotions] has been working hard since I turned pro and because of their hard work, I am here today and have become what I am. Morale is very high in the camp,” he said.
Tso’s exploits as the first Hong Kong professional have not gone unnoticed with his fan base growing with each fight.
“What Rex has done for the sport is huge for Hong Kong. He gives Hong Kong a sense of pride,” said Hermes David, one of dozens of fans who turned out at Friday’s official weigh-in at Olympia City. “I certainly will not miss the fight.
Tso (18-0-0, 11 KOs) is heavily favoured to extend his unbeaten streak as he takes on the 36-year-old Young (27-5-1, 21 KOs), who last year tried unsuccessfully to lift the WBC world minimum weight title.
“I won’t be taking him lightly. He’s a tough and dangerous fighter and there’s no telling how fit and strong he’s going to be. But I am very confident in myself. If I get an opening, I am going to try to end it before 12 rounds,” said Tso, who tipped the scales at 51.55 kilograms. Young weighed 52kg.
“I am going to fight a smart fight and be patient. I’m ready for 12 rounds if it all comes down to it. I remember I had to go 10 punishing rounds against [Filipino] Michael Enriquez [in 2015] and I didn’t have much left in the tank.
“My stamina and fitness level have improved and I have learned a lot from that experience. I am not going to take chances now. I must be fully fit and last the distance,” he said.
Tso is not worried about blowing away any cobwebs in his first fight since destroying Australia’s Brad Hore in a seventh-round TKO to lift the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council super flyweight title last August, also at the Convention Centre.
“I actually feel physically better and more mentally in tune. My training has gone well and I am not worried that it’s been nine months since my last fight. I have kept up my training, had good sparring sessions and I am ready,” he said.
Tso’s conditioning trainer, Ross Eathorne, says Tso will strip an even fitter boxer than the one who took down Hore.
“When I first started working with Rex a year ago, he was a boxer. Now, he’s an athlete,” said Kiwi Eathorne.
“There’s a fantastic feeling because he has come so far, so quickly. He’s more creative in his workouts and that could be the X factor that could take him from being a good fighter to a champion boxer.
“Rex was running 10kms in 47 minutes last year. Now he is running 11kms in 47 minutes. And Rex is not a runner. That’s pretty fast for a non-runner.
“He has the ability to go 12 rounds and he’s better conditioned than last year. He’s fitter, bigger, stronger and he’s moving better. He’s way more fluid in his movements,” Eathorne said.
Tso’s coach and manager, Jay Lau Chi-yuen, said Saturday night’s fight would be the biggest show in town.
“Some of the most important people in world boxing are here, including Top Rank [promoter] Bob Arum and officials from WBO and WBC.
“After five years struggling as a boxer, Rex can look at this with pride. It’s a big step forward for Tso and for Hong Kong boxing,” said Lau.
“We had HK$50,000 worth of tickets sold today, that’s about 300 tickets. There are between 200 to 300 remaining and I am sure they will be gone tomorrow.”
Lau is confident his protege will win and stay on track for a possible world super flyweight title fight before the end of the year.
“Rex can’t wait to get into the ring. He made the weight comfortably and he could sleep and eat well. Before, he used to be very tired trying to make weight. He’s able to lose weight because he has put on muscle and his metabolic rate is higher so he can burn more calories,” said Lau.
Young said he was confident of spoiling Tso’s party.
“I came here to fight and I am ready. I have more experience than him. But Rex will be a tough opponent, no doubt,” said Young.
Two belts will be on the line: the WBC Asian Boxing Council title and the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title.