‘Tough Boy’ Kohei Kono passes test to make Rex Tso fight official

Japanese star easily wins his warm-up bout in Tokyo before signing contract as ‘Clash of Champions 3’ becomes reality at the Convention and Exhibition Centre on October 7

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 July, 2017, 5:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2017, 5:41pm

It’s official: Hong Kong’s Rex Tso Sing-yu will fight Kohei Kono in a much-anticipated bout in October after the Japanese star returned to winning ways over the weekend – the pre-set condition that he had to meet to make the fight happen.

Hong Kong promoter Jay Lau Chi-yuen was at ringside in Tokyo on Sunday and watched Kono pummel Thai boxer Rambo Sithsaithong in a fifth-round TKO to clear the path for the October 7 showdown at the Convention and Exhibition Centre. The fight was rubber-stamped when Kono and his manager, Hitoshi Watanabe, signed a contract in Tokyo on Monday.

“Tough Boy” Kono, coming off two straight losses against Panama’s Luis Concepcion and Japanese superstar “Monster” Naoya Inoue, was desperate for victory and despite playing it safe at first, the 36-year-old veteran eventually stopped his Thai opponent.

Impressed by Kono’s comeback victory, which raised his record to 33-10-1, 14 KOs, Lau was excited that the fight, billed as Clash of Champions 3, will finally go ahead.

“Kono had to win the fight and he couldn’t suffer any cuts or injuries so he played it safe,” said Lau. “Usually Kono likes to go forward but he had to be careful because if he suffered any cuts during the bout, the showdown against Rex would be called off because he wouldn’t have time to heal and prepare for the October fight,” he said.

Hong Kong’s Rex Tso to fight Kohei Kono in October in Wonder Kid’s most glamorous bout

Lau said the pressure was on Kono to win as a prerequisite for a challenger to face a champion in a title fight – in this case challenging Tso for the WBO international super flyweight title.

“Kono was in shape. He didn’t lose any of his speed and power but he was a bit careful and didn’t look very motivated during the fight, probably because he didn’t want to get hurt. It was hard to gauge his performance because he was boxing carefully. But he still easily won. I was told from his manager that we will see the real Kono come October,” said Lau, who is also Tso’s manager and trainer.

The Tso-Kono fight is two years in the making and is expected to be another sell-out for Hong Kong’s “Wonder Kid” who recently turned 30. Tso, who is 21-0-0, is looking to improve his winning streak with a world title fight on the horizon – possibly against the super talented Inoue in early 2018.

Tso has already begun training but Lau said the undefeated southpaw would be “highly motivated” in training now that the fight has become official.

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“Now that the contract has been signed and everything has become official, Rex will be able to concentrate and focus really hard on his next target,” said Lau. “Rex began training in early July and his work rate will gradually increase. We have already found a good sparring partner for him in [Japanese] Takuya Watanabe, a super featherweight WBC youth champion. He’s bigger and taller than Rex. We need somebody bigger than Rex to spar with him.”