Rex Tso must beat Kohei Kono – and beat him convincingly – if he wants world title shot, says promoter

Unbeaten Hong Kong star meets former world champion from Japan at ‘Clash of the Champions 3’ on October 7

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 11:07am

Hong Kong star boxer Rex Tso Sing yu’s performance in his next fight on October 7 against wily Japanese veteran Kohei Kono will go a long way to determining if the unbeaten super flyweight is ready for a proposed world title showdown with WBO champion Naoya Inoue, according to Tso’s manager.

Jay Lau Chi-yuen said “The Wonder Kid” would need to win, and win well against 36-year-old Kono to even be considered in the same league as unbeaten champion Inoue.

“No promoter wants to put their fighter in with somebody that he has no chance to win,” said Lau. “If Rex can’t beat Kono convincingly, then it may indicate that he isn’t ready to take on Inoue for a world title.”

DEF Promotions chief Lau was also reluctant to suggest this was an easy fight for his charge against a re-energised Kono, who ended a two-fight losing streakwith a knockout victory over Thailand’s Yuranan Dokrathok, otherwise known as Rambo Sithsaithong, in July.

“People say, ‘Oh, Kono – he’s washed up. He’s old and he’s lost a lot of fights.’ But we’re not writing him off,” said Lau.

“He’s got incredible stamina and conditioning. We’re aiming to beat him using Rex’s skill. Not to outlast him, because I don’t think that’s possible.

“[Kono] was a marathon runner, and even at 36 he’s still very fit and strong.”

Tso, 30, has claimed eight of his 21 wins on points after going the distance and observers say his conditioning is one of his key strengths.

But Lau says Tso has to prove he has the ability to outbox Kono if he wants a world title shot.

Inoue has disposed of 12 of his 14 opponents inside the distance and counts Kono among his victims having knocked him out in six rounds in December last year, the first KO loss of his career.

Kono, a former WBA world champion, is confident he can continue his late-career resurgence against Tso on the “Clash of the Champions 3” card at Wan Chai’s Convention and Exhibition Centre on October 7.

“His nickname back in Japan is ‘Tough Boy’,” said Lau, “and when the Japanese call a fighter ‘tough’, you know he’s going to be a very strong opponent.”

Earlier this month, Kono dismissed Tso’s chances of defeating Inoue down the line to claim the coveted world title strap.

“Rex won’t have a chance of winning,” said Kono. “A lot of people who have sparred against [Inoue] and who have studied his technique can’t figure out a way to defeat him because he’s just too good.

“There’s no way Rex can beat him and that’s the honest truth.

“Other people have said the same thing; he’s unbeatable at this moment and he’s stronger than anyone in the whole division. He’s super strong and he’s definitely number one.”

For his part, Tso is eager to not get ahead of himself in his quest for a world title shot.

“I haven’t thought about the world title,” he said. “That may well be my next fight but I’m concentrating on my fight against Kono first.

“I have had him in my sights for two years. I am very excited to have this opportunity,” said Tso, who is 21-0-0 with 13 knockouts.