Rex Tso words of wisdom inspire protégé Raymond Poon to World Boxing Council Asia title from humble Tin Shui Wai beginnings

The 22-year-old is on similar path to undefeated Hong Kong hero Rex Tso after headlining city’s Def boxing promotion and securing first continental titles

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 July, 2018, 1:07pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 July, 2018, 1:07pm

“Hong Kong people: you can do anything – just look at me!” yells Raymond Poon Kai-ching with two title belts wrapped around his waist at a buzzing Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai.

The 22-year-old (professional record 6 wins, 1 loss) defeated Ryo Narizuka (8-8-1 draw) via majority decision for the vacant World Boxing Council Asian Boxing Council (WBC ABCO) light flyweight continental and Asian Boxing Federation (ABF) titles in Def Promotion’s Road to Glory II on Saturday evening.

Fans could not help but see similarities with undefeated hometown hero Rex Tso Sing-yu’s own boxing ascent.

“I started boxing at 18 after I saw Rex fight for the WBC ABCO [super flyweight] title,” said Poon, who featured on the undercard of Tso’s Clash of Champions III last year. “I wanted to see how it felt to step into the ring and I soon became an amateur boxer.”

The self-labelled “very ordinary” Hongkonger would go on to prove his disapproving parents and coaches wrong. He turned pro within two years – following Tso around The Philippines for high-level sparring partners and pad work – and quickly became the next realistic prospect to keep Hong Kong on the boxing map.

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“Actually my parents were very against it to begin with,” Poon said. “You get nothing as an amateur boxer; the only thing you get is hurt. They are starting to understand ever since I went pro.

“Our whole family lived in Tin Shui Wai [northwestern New Territories],” he added. “My dad was a standard cook and made just over HK$10,000 a month. My parents are grass roots Hongkongers.

“From childhood to secondary school, I had a very normal life – never very good at studies nor sports, good at nothing but never the worst.

“When I started as an amateur my coaches from other gyms told me I had no boxing sense and that I should just find a job because I kept losing again and again.

“It really hurt but I got one more chance with Def and I’ve just been working hard every day until now. Now I’ve changed the way they talk about me.”

Japanese opponent Narizuka – a part-time skyscraper window cleaner – looked equally confident as he squared off with Poon in the ring but began to open up in the latter rounds.

“I looked at his [physique] and I could tell he was 100 per cent ready to fight,” said Poon, adding that his stamina and body shot techniques had improved drastically since his one and only professional loss last year.

“I [predicted it would go] to a decision, but he had also never done 10 rounds so I thought maybe I could finish him in the eighth or ninth round.

“When I was preparing for the last fight, I was only fighting for six rounds and had never stepped in for 10,” Poon said.

“Rex told me that if I want to fight for 10 rounds I had to prepare and focus harder than ever before. Now I can do 10 rounds while switching between two or three sparring partners.”

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Tso told the South China Morning Post he hopes Poon can keep working on his basic techniques to make sure he has the best foundation to work off of for future fights.

“Everyone can get to the top spot so we have to support each other,” said Tso (22-0), who was at Southorn Stadium on Saturday evening but continues to recover from an eye injury incurred nine months ago.

“I hope Raymond can face competition with a level head and implement what he learned in training.”

As for the concoction of nerves and pressure from the expectant boxing fans and media – who have been twiddling their thumbs as Tso has yet to set a return date – Poon brushes it aside with a smile.

“I’ve fought six fights so I have enough experience in the ring. I don’t feel nervous; I really love that feeling when people focus only on you,” he said.

“Rex has done so much boxing but I will try to get that belt and keep going forward so that Hong Kong can get more exposure. Together we can improve the sport.”