I almost blacked out ... I had to continue: Rex Tso describes struggle to make it 21 straight wins
Hong Kong’s Wonder Kid reveals he was suffering from a host of injuries before, during and after his fight against Hirofumi Mukai but the sold-out 8,000 crowd helped lift him
Hong Kong hero Rex Tso Sing-yu said he almost blacked out during the second round of his titanic battle against Japanese rival Hirofumi Mukai, but he persevered because he didn’t want to let anyone down.
Speaking hours after his spectacular eighth-round TKO victory over the 31-year-old Mukai, the pride of Hong Kong said he almost lost consciousness after a left hook by Mukai put his head in a spin, temporarily cutting off his hearing. But he said he somehow managed to fight on while his senses gradually returned.
“I almost blacked out for about five seconds during the second round. I didn’t know what was happening and I couldn’t even hear my coach [Jake Verano] at all. In the middle of the fight, I almost collapsed in the ring. It was only through the support of the whole audience did I manage to continue and fight on,” said the 29-year-old, who stretched his unblemished record to 21 victories.
“I took many hits from my opponents ... in the face, in the ear, in my abdomen and chest. He was hitting me a lot for the first couple of rounds, but I decided to change my strategy,” said the unbeaten super flyweight, who fought in front of a capacity 8,000 audience.
Watch: Rex Tso wins his 21st professional fight
Hong Kong’s first professional fighter said he had been “half a step” too close against Mukai and was receiving punishment at first but Tso said: “Once I adjusted, I kept a safer distance and I was finding my range a lot better and I was scoring good hits. I told myself I couldn’t give up and I put everything into it.
“My energy was declining but I told myself I had to continue and focused on winning and I used my boxing skills. When I had a chance to throw combinations, I would do that. I could hear a lot of applause and support from the audience and that lifted me.”
Tso said he was a bit “crest fallen” before the fight after hearing that his teammate Raymond Poon Kai-ching and friend, Tom Taw, had lost their fights earlier in the evening. “I had feared that I would lose, too. But I remained positive,” said southpaw Tso (now 21-0-0, 13 KOs).
The Wonder Kid also told about his struggles before, during and after the fight, saying he was carrying “many injuries” leading up to Clash of Champions 2 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.
“I injured the [bridge] of my nose in February while sparring. I was really worried about that. Then I injured my left wrist and also my rib cage during training in the Philippines. When I came back to Hong Kong I needed lots of physio treatment,” he said.
“I had to go through lots of pain and misery to get into the ring. My whole body seemed to be screaming out in pain but I had to endure the pain and continue.”
His injuries on Saturday night included a cut on the bridge of his nose, a bit of swelling around his right eye and a few cuts on his face, but he’ll live to fight another day.
Tso’s courage and determination have been the hot topic in town with many people from all walks of life congratulating Tso on his latest victory.
Celebrities such as local politicians James Tien Pei-chun and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee attended the bout, which finished well past midnight.
Tso also received congratulatory messages from other celebrities, such as martial arts action star Donnie Yen Ji-dan, the Ip Man and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story star who wrote: “Congrats to our world champion! Rex, you are the inspiration for Hong Kong. Although I could not be there personally because I was travelling to China yesterday but my spirit was there with you guys every step of the way. Well done again!”
Tso will take a two-month break before resuming light training. His next fight is expected to be in September or October and according to his manager and trainer, Jay Lau Chi-yuen, it could be against legendary Japanese fighter Kohei Kono, the former WBA champion who is trying to come back from two successive losses.
“I will be going to meet Kono’s manager [Hitoshi Watanabe] next week in Tokyo and perhaps we could work out an agreement,” said Lau.
DEF Promotions, which co-organised Saturday’s Clash of Champions 2, will organise a smaller event in May but it will not include Tso this time.