Hong Kong’s Rex Tso to fight Kohei Kono in October in Wonder Kid’s most glamorous bout
Unbeaten Hong Kong phenom will square off with former WBA world champion at the Convention and Exhibition Centre with victory earning the Wonder Kid a showdown with Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue in 2018
It’s a fight two years in the making. Hong Kong phenom Rex Tso Sing-yu will clash with Japan’s former WBA champion Kohei Kono in the Wonder Kid’s most glamorous bout set for October 7 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Unbeaten southpaw Tso (21-0-0, 13 KOs) has been itching to get into the ring against one of world’s most famous super flyweights and although the bout will come almost two years past the initial hype, it’s still a potentially explosive fight Hong Kong fans would want to see.
Promoter Jay Lau Chi-yuen, confirmed the fight – for the WBO international super flyweight title – at a press conference on Monday. It will be the third Japanese fighter in a row Tso will have faced having defeated Hirofumi Mukai in March and Ryuto Maekawa last October.
Kono held the WBA world title for almost three years before relinquishing his crown to Panama City’s Luis Conception in a unanimous defeat last August in Tokyo.
Watch: Kohei Kono defeats Koki Komeda for WBA title in Chicago, 2015
The 36-year-old veteran tried to come back after that loss, challenging fellow Japanese superstar Naoya “The Monster” Inoue for the WBO world super flyweight last December but lost in a sixth-round TKO. Kono also challenged for the WBC world title in 2010 but was outpointed by Mexico’s Tomas Rojas
Despite two straight losses, Kohei (36-10-1, 13 KOs) will be out to prove he’s still a force and subject to a warm-up fight that the Japanese must win, the stage is set for the most anticipated fight in Tso’s career – against the biggest name he will have faced. Lau is confident another sell-out crowd of 8,000 will attend the extravaganza.
Watch: Rex Tso defeats Hirofumi Mukai in March to extend winning streak to 21
Lau also revealed that victory for Tso would set up the Wonder Kid for a mega world title bout against WBO champion Inoue in 2018 as reported by the Post last week.
“The Kono fight is on ,” said Lau, who is also Tso’s coach and manager. “But Kono would have to have a warm-up fight and win as a preset condition before he can fight Rex because Kono lost twice in a row [against Conception and Inoue]. I spoke to WBO and they are really happy to have Rex fight Kono and they think it will really be an exciting fight,” added Lau.
“We have been talking about this fight for about two years. Kono wants to come back after two successive losses. His nickname is Tough Boy, so it’s Tough Boy versus the Wonder Kid,” grinned Tso’s manager.
Kono surprised fans when he defended his WBA title against fellow Japanese Koki Kameda, a former multi-division world champion, in Chicago in October 2015, winning a unanimous decision over 12 rounds. Lau said Tso was supposed to fight Kono at that time but WBA ordered the mandatory fight in Chicago, denying Tso a potential world title fight.
“Kono beat Kameda, whose family’s name is the biggest in Japanese boxing. We were supposed to fight Kono then, but lost [hosting] it to Al Haymon [Kameda’s manager/adviser].”
Lau thinks Kono will provide Tso with his toughest fight yet as the Japanese will be on the comeback trail in a fading 17-year career that started in 2000.
“Kono didn’t prepare well for the Inoue fight [last December] and I think he’s better than that. It’s going to be a very good fight in October. We’re ironing out the contract that will include a clause that will state that if Kono beats Rex, there will be a rematch. If we beat Kono, we’ll move on to fight Inoue next year.
“Rex wants to fight Inoue,” Lau continued. “If Rex defeats Kono, there’s a good chance against Inoue. But he has to prove himself first. If Rex can knock out Kono in the sixth round or so, let’s do it. But if Rex loses to Kono, I don’t think he has a chance against Inoue so why make this fight happen?
“I want to get a clearer picture as to who Rex should face after he fights Kono. This is what we’re looking for and this is what we’re planning,” said Lau.
Tso will begin training camp for the Kono fight in July, starting off with strength and conditioning work. The 29-year-old will likely spend two months in the Philippines sparring before returning to Hong Kong in late September.