‘I still take the MTR,’ says superstar Rex Tso, despite his face – and physique – plastered everywhere

Insisting he’s still the ‘same guy’ despite his growing fame, Hong Kong star attempts to make it win No 20 as a professional against fellow unbeaten fighter Ryuto Maekawa on Saturday night

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 4:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 11:17pm

It’s hard not to miss Rex Tso Sing-yu these days – he’s one of Hong Kong’s most recognisable athletes with a soaring popularity.

Tso’s face – and lightly framed physique – have adorned posters at MTR stations and TV commercials that sell everything from mouthwash to mobile phones to promoting banks and insurance companies.

Watch: Rex Tso's life story as a boxer in nine minutes (Cantonese only)

But the “Wonder Kid” insists his growing fame hasn’t gone to his head, despite becoming Hong Kong’s most marketable athlete.

“Friends have been saying to me that I shouldn’t take the MTR anymore because I am a superstar now,” laughed Tso. “I said why not? I’m still an athlete and nothing has changed.

“I don’t really think about it too much [commercials] and honestly I don’t take much notice of my ads. I’d rather focus on my job, which is to win my next fight,” he said.

That’s reassuring since the spotlight will again fall on Tso when the 29-year-old unbeaten southpaw steps into the ring on Saturday night at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.

Tso (19-0-0, 12 KOs) is aiming to keep his unbeaten streak going for a 20th time against fellow unbeaten Japanese fighter Ryuto Maekawa (11-0-1, 7 KOs) in the main event of “Battle of Victors”.

Biggest boxing bout ever in Hong Kong: record crowd expected for ‘Battle of Victors’ featuring Rex Tso

Tso’s manager and trainer, Jay Lau Chi-yuen, said Tso had become “a bit embarrassed” by his latest success outside the ring but remains “essentially the same guy”.

“Rex doesn’t treat himself as a superstar, even though he has appeared in many TV commercials and ads. It’s a nice thing to have [commercial success] but he remains well grounded.”

Tso knows where his priorities lie, too, and he will need to return to the serious side of business as he fights in front of the biggest-ever crowd for a Hong Kong boxing event – 5,000.

Maekawa vowed to “beat up Tso and snatch his belts”.

Keep the dream alive: Focus on your next opponent, Hong Kong’s ‘Wonder Kid’ Rex Tso told

It’s a 10-round contest with two belts on the line – the WBO international junior bantamweight title and the WBC Asia super flyweight title (115 pound) which Tso holds.

“Maekawa had to travel to Thailand when he first turned pro at 15 because you must be at least 17 to fight professionally in Japan. He’s been a pro for five years – same as Rex,” said Lau.

Maekawa won his last fight in a first-round knockout against Filipino Bimbo Nacionales in Tokyo in July. But upon closer inspection, Nacionales was knocked out cold by an innocuous-looking right hook.

Still, Tso is not underestimating Maekawa who, on paper at least, is a step down in quality than Tso’s last opponent, Young Gil-bae of South Korea, who he beat in May.

“I can’t under estimate anyone in the ring,” Tso said after he tipped the scales at 115 pounds, the same as Maekawa.

“I trained very seriously for the fight because you don’t know just how good your opponent is until you get into the ring. Maekawa is very young and he has strength and speed and has knockout power so I have to watch out for him.”

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who is in town for the fight, is looking forward to a match-up between two unbeaten fighters.

“Rex has proven himself to be a world-class fighter and he faces his toughest rival to date. It’s just another obstacle on his way to becoming a world champion one day,” said Arum.