Rex Tso splits with long-time manager Jay Lau, as Hong Kong’s ‘Wonder Kid’ plots boxing comeback
Unbeaten but inactive Hong Kong boxer leaves DEF Promotions after at least seven years, with wife Candy Wu now representing his interests
One of Hong Kong’s most successful sport partnerships is officially over after unbeaten boxer Rex Tso Sing-yu admitted he has split with long-time manager and coach Jay Lau Chi-yuen.
Tso and Lau together forged a career never before seen in the city, with capacity crowds of up to 8,000 attending many of his fights and millions watching online.
It’s a partnership that lasted at least 13 years, but the 31-year-old “Wonder Kid”, who has an outstanding ring record of 22 straight wins (22-0-0, 13 KOs), declared it was over in an interview with the South China Morning Post.
In July, Tso did not renew his contract with DEF Promotions, the company partly owned and founded by Lau. Instead, Tso has gone his own way with his wife, Candy Wu, now representing his interests.
Tso’s split with Lau was hardly a secret with many pundits observing their relationship turned sour after Tso’s last fight against Japanese veteran Kohei Kono 11 months ago.
But this is the first time Tso has confirmed he has severed ties with the man who helped launch a boxing phenomenon in Hong Kong.
However, Tso has made it clear he is not retiring from the ring and he was still training to stay fit, although he could not put a timetable to his comeback.
“Yes, I have split with Jay,” Tso said. “I have left DEF [Promotions] but I’m not retiring. I am just taking a nine-month [11 months] break from my last fight because I am recovering from my injury.
“I need time to train up. I needed a long rest in order to continue my boxing career.”
Tso’s admission of his split with Lau, who is also a boxing promoter, is not surprising given the pair have rarely spoken to each other since the super fly weight defeated “Tough Boy” Kono in a technical decision last October.
It was the beginning of the end of the multimillion-dollar partnership which made Tso a superstar as Hong Kong’s first and most successful professional boxer.
His popularity made him a familiar face on television and on billboards as arguably the most marketable Hong Kong athlete of all time.
Tso was ranked as high as No 1 in the WBO super flyweight ranking list but has since slipped to 15th.
Tso said he was still recovering from a left eye injury sustained in his somewhat controversial victory over Kono (33-12-1, 14 KOs). That sell-out fight was stopped after the referee inspected his badly gashed eye while the Wonder Kid was leading the scorecards at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Doctors have advised him to rest his eye but his break-up with DEF Promotions goes further than his long absence from the ring, according to sources, who believe Tso did not see eye-to-eye with DEF over many aspects of the business including promotional activities.
In one of the fairy tales of the sport, Tso was introduced to amateur boxing by Lau as a teenager, the youngest of the Tso clan that included his three elder boxing brothers.
The Wonder Kid’s late father, Tso Shu-yan, was a seven-time Hong Kong amateur champion.
Lau, meanwhile, shrugged off losing his biggest star and vowed to move on. “I honestly have no idea what Rex is doing now,” Lau said. “I offered him a vacant world title in May but he said he needed a rest. I didn’t meet Rex after the Kono fight. He is totally out of contact with me now.”
Lau has been forced to promote his other boxers led by promising local fighter Raymond Poon Kai-ching (6-1-0, 3 KOs), the 22-year-old light flyweight boxer, who won two minor continental titles in July at the Southorn Stadium.
DEF also has Nepalese fighter, Ghale Nibesh, the most exciting of the stable.