Could 2018 be Rex Tso’s breakthrough year? Hong Kong’s Wonder Kid might finally get his world title shot

The 30-year-old unbeaten star could challenge for the WBO super flyweight belt after ‘Monster’ Naoya Inoue looks likely to vacate his title and move up to bantamweight

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 December, 2017, 5:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 4:55pm

The stars are aligning for Hong Kong’s unbeaten super flyweight, Rex Tso Sing-yu, to finally step up and fight for a world title in 2018.

The city’s most successful and famous pugilist has been eyeing a world title shot for years and he might finally get his shot with news that WBO super flyweight champion Naoya Inoue is expected to vacate his title as he moves up to bantamweight.

If the “Monster” leaves the division, Tso (22-0-0, 13 KOs) – rated the number one WBO contender – would be asked to fight the number two contender, Philippines’ 26-year-old rising star, Aston Francis “Mighty” Palicte, for the vacant belt.

Inoue made the announcement that he had fought his last fight in the 115-pound division on Saturday night, bringing relief to the Tso camp, who have always been wary of facing Japan’s wrecking machine.

The 24-year-old Inoue crushed his latest opponent in Yokohama on Saturday night, blasting hapless Frenchman, Yoann Boyeaux, in a third-round TKO that solidified his reputation as one of the world’s most exciting pound-for-pound fighters. Inoue improved his record to 15-0 with 13 KOs, while Boyeaux slipped to 41-5, 26 KOs.

“I have a lot of options,” said Yokohama-born Inoue, who delighted the home crowd by pulverising Boyeaux in the fight that was stopped by the referee one minute, 40 seconds into the third round.

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“I’m looking forward to something new. I’m not satisfied [at super fly] so I want to fight at bantamweight next year,” said the Japanese superstar, who could face WBO bantamweight champion, Zolani Tete, in future.

One of the reasons Inoue is vacating his title is that he has not be able to lure any of the top boxers from the super flyweight division to fight him. Earlier last month, Britain’s WBA super flyweight champion Khalid “Kal” Yafai turned down an offer to fight the Japanese in a unification bout.

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Inoue’s announcement – he has always indicated that he would move to bantamweight – will be music to the ears of Tso, who is expected to announce his plans for 2018 on Tuesday when he attends a product launch for an insurance company.

Tso’s promoter and manager, Jay Lau Chi-yuen, said his protege could finally get his title shot in 2018, but it will depend on whether the “Wonder Kid” is hungry enough to take advantage of the opportunity.

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“Since Rex is the number one WBO contender, we should have the [first] option to fight for the title should Inoue vacate his title. But Rex will need to agree first,” said Lau.

Watch: Naoya Inoue v Yoann Boyeaux for WBO super flyweight title

The super flyweight division is crowded with superstar fighters with Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1) holding the WBC title. The Thai will out to retain his strap against Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2-0) in Inglewood, California in February. The division also includes Nicaragua’s legendary, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-2-0) and Mexico’s Carlos Cuadras (36-2-1), two very skilled fighters.

Tso is undefeated in 22 fights in a career that has sparked the imagination of the Hong Kong public.

Both his fights in 2017 were held in front of capacity crowds of 8,000 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre with the Hong Kong boxer winning his last bout against Japan’s former WBA super flyweight champion, Kohei Kono, in October.

Tso defeated “Tough Boy” Kono in a technical decision despite suffering an accidental headbutt in the second round. A few days later, Tso announced that he would take a six month break to allow his injuries to heal.