A little help from his friend: Rex Tso trains with world champion for 'Battle of Victors'

Hong Kong’s unbeaten star spars for a month with WBO bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales for Saturday’s highly anticipated showdown against undefeated Japanese fighter Ryuto Maekawa

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 October, 2016, 7:18pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 1:11pm

A reigning world champion has helped push Rex Tso Sing-yu to the physical limits as Hong Kong’s “Wonder Kid” completed all the hard work in preparation for this weekend’s “Battle of Victors” showpiece.

Tso’s trainer and manager, Jay Lau Chi-yuen, revealed Tso had sparred with WBO bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales at the Wakee Salud Gym in Cebu, the Philippines, for a whole month with the unbeaten Hong Kong star pushed to a whole level of fitness in readiness for his highly anticipated fight against undefeated 20-year-old Japanese fighter Ryuto Maekawa (11-0-1, 7 KOs).

The Wakee Salud Gym has produced four world champions, most recently 24-year-old southpaw Tapales (29-2-0).

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Tso’s work with Tapales will definitely put him in good stead against his younger Japanese rival in the 10-round contest for the vacant WBO international junior bantamweight title (115 pounds) and the WBC Asia super flyweight title, which Tso currently holds at the Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday.

Tso was also helping Tapales prepare for the Filipino’s first world title defence against unbeaten Takuma Inoue in Tokyo on December 30. Inoue is the younger brother of Naoya “The Monster” Inoue, the current WBO junior bantamweight champion.

“Rex’s main sparring partner in Cebu was Tapales and they trained three times a week for a whole month. Rex had to adapt to Tapales speed and power as Rex was sparring against someone from a higher weight division. It was a real test for Rex, but it was really good training for Rex,” said Lau.

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“In fact, I travelled to Thailand in July to watch Tapales win the world title against Pungluang Sor Singyu in Ayutthaya [Thailand] and Tapales was very good.”

Tso, who is looking to stretch his unbeaten record to 20-0 against Maekawa, said training with Tapales was an eye opening experience for him as “he showed his class as an all-round fighter”.

“I have sparred with Tapales before and I have always admired his power and speed. He switches his strategy and has a really good fighting brain. He has sharp, crisp punches and his punches are very accurate. His technique is also very good. He gave me a lot of good workouts,” said 29-year-old Tso, who returned to Hong Kong from Cebu on Saturday.

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“My training has finished and I will be tapering down and trying to make weight for Saturday’s fight. I feel great at the moment and I am confident of winning my 20th professional fight,” he said.

Tso’s strength and conditioning coach, Ross Eathorne, said the Wonder Kid’s hard work had finished and that “there was nothing to add”.

“It’s the first time I have seen Rex in a month. He will now be cutting weight. The last time I worked with him was a month ago before he went to training camp in Cebu. He has been a real joy to work with,” said Eathorne.

Tso looked extremely sharp during an open workout on Sunday as he worked with his trainer, Jake Verano, at the DFF gym in Sheung Wan.

“I’ve done all the hard work and I am ready for Maekawa,” said Tso, who will be fighting in front of an expected sell-out crowd of 5,000.

Also on the fightcard on Saturday will be Tommy “Gun” Taw (1-0), who will compete in his second professional fight against Indonesia’s Marco Tuhumury (10-13-2, 3 KOs) in a four-round middleweight contest.

Taw, who is vice president of capital markets at world-leading hedge fund Blackrock, will be aiming to raise US$10,000 for the “K.O. Cancer” campaign, with proceeds going to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre.

“I see my fight as a rare opportunity to help others. Reading about these young kids who can’t have a childhood because they’re struggling to fight cancer was really heart breaking and inspired me to launch the K.O. Cancer campaign,” said Taw.