Six million dollar man: Rex Tso’s next fight will set gate receipt record

Hong Kong’s ‘Wonder Kid’ is expected to fight in front of a capacity crowd of 8,000 against Japan’s Hirofumi Mukai on March 11 as he strengthens his war chest for a possible future world title bout

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 February, 2017, 11:29am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 February, 2017, 11:56pm

Records are set to tumble as Rex Tso Sing-yu’s next bout in March is likely to smash past HK$6 million in gate revenue thanks to an expected capacity crowd.

Organisers said more than 7,300 tickets out of the 8,000 available seats had been sold for the March 11 bout against Japanese Hirofumi Mukai (13-4-3, 3 KOs) at Wan Chai’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, making “Clash of Champions 2” the city’s biggest boxing event of its kind in terms of crowd attendance and revenue generated.

Tso’s last fight in October 2016 attracted a then-record 5,000 crowd at the same venue and generated about HK$4 million in revenue but next month’s 12-round super flyweight extravaganza will see ticket sales blast past that record with income from gate receipts and corporate sponsorship topping HK$6 million.

Funds generated from the fight will improve Tso’s already healthy finances but also strengthen the unbeaten 29-year-old southpaw’s war chest for future bouts, which this year could include a world championship fight. To challenge for a world title, an opponent’s purse costs US$250,000 and together with sanctioning fees, hiring of venue, staff costs, board and lodging for fighters and other miscellaneous expenses, it becomes an extremely expensive venture.

“At this moment, about 90 per cent of tickets have been sold,” said Tso’s manager and trainer, Jay Lau Chi-yuen, whose company, DEF Promotions, is co-promoting the event.

“Several sponsors are snapping up lots of tickets and giving them away as part of their promotion. Everyone is looking for a free ticket. There are about 700 to 800 tickets left but we fully expect it to be a full house come March 11,” he said.

Box office knockout: More than 70 per cent tickets sold for Rex Tso’s latest bout

The unbeaten “Wonder Kid” (20-0-0, 12 KOs) is firing the imagination of the Hong Kong public with his TV commercials, promos and media exposure helping him become a household name with even former Financial Secretary and Chief Executive candidate John Tsang Chun-wah among his many fans.

“We didn’t have to spend money to promote our event this time so it’s gratifying to know that this event will probably be sold out without much promotion. Before, we used to spend around HK$100,000 on posters [in the MTR] to make people aware of our event, but we didn’t have to do that this time,” said Lau.

Organisers said fans will be given a better view of the ring this time with elevated or “riser” seats. There will be six large TV screens, including two for the “riser” seats so fans won’t miss the action.

Lau said money generated from the fight will also help finance DEF Promotion’s next event on May 13, which will feature primarily up-and-coming young local fighters and a few professionals from southeast Asia – but it won’t include Tso.

Rex Tso still waiting for world title shot as he returns to ring against Hirofumi Mukai in March

“We want to promote boxing better in Hong Kong so we decided to hold an event, without Rex, and we plan to have between 12 to 13 bouts. We plan to stage it in front of a crowd of 1,600 and it will be a chance for aspiring Hong Kong amateurs to showcase their talent and give the audience a chance to enjoy the excitement of boxing,” said Lau.

Meanwhile, Tso will remain in Hong Kong in the lead-up to “Clash of Champions 2”. Several world-class boxers have flown into town to help the “Wonder Kid” train with current WBO bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales and fellow Filipino fighter Mark Anthony Geraldo, tasked with helping Tso sharpen his skills.

“Rex will do his sparring in Hong Kong until the fight but he will have two very good sparring partners who will be able to boost his confidence before he faces Mukai,” Lau said.

“We are still hopeful that Rex will finally get his shot at a world title. In fact, we were asked by [Japanese superstar ] Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue [last December] to fight him in April, but we had to turn him down because we got our event in March. Inoue is due to fight in April and that might be the last time he fights as a super flyweight because he’s struggling to make weight and could move to the bantamweight division soon,” said Lau.