Show me the money? No thanks, says Rex Tso as he turns down millions to focus on Kono fight
Hong Kong’s ‘Wonder Kid’ wants to turn up in tip-top shape for his highly-anticipated fight against Japanese veteran rather than go for riches
Hong Kong superstar boxer Rex Tso Sing-yu has been turning down potentially millions in endorsement contracts to fully focus on his upcoming glamour fight against Japanese Kohei Kono in October, it was revealed on Sunday.
Tso (21-0-0, 13 KOs) was busy shooting commercials before the summer but the 30-year-old unbeaten southpaw has put his foot down and decided not to do any more commercial work – at least for the time being – as he gets into tip-top shape for the October 7 super flyweight showdown against former WBA world champion Kono (33-10-1, 14 KOs).
Hong Kong promoter Jay Lau Chi-yuen said Tso turned down at least seven to eight “potential clients” with his 22nd professional fight less than eight weeks away at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.
That means the “Wonder Kid” has lost out on a small fortune in appearance fees, endorsements – anything from opening stores to product launches – but Hong Kong’s first professional boxer isn’t bothered that he won’t be putting more money into his piggy bank.
“When we announced that Rex was going to fight Kono in July, Rex received a number of offers from potential clients but we had to turn them all down,” said Lau, who is also Tso’s manager and trainer.
“Rex received a lot of publicity and we were approached by PR agencies who asked whether we could help promote their clients’ companies but we had to say no because Rex wanted to concentrate on his training and he doesn’t want any interference.
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“This has happened every time Rex trains for a big fight but we can’t help it. We can’t reschedule it because they want the product launches at that particular time.
“It’s no big deal [to him] as he has established himself and it is understandable that he doesn’t want anything that could affect his training.”
Lau also said Tso is setting a good example as an athlete and has gone the opposite way from China’s superstar flyweight Zou Shiming, who recently lost his first world title defence in Shanghai.
Zou decided to promote the fight himself but the move backfired as he lost to Japan’s Sho Kimura in a stunning upset last month.
“Zou Shiming is a good lesson,” said Lau of the two-time Olympic champion’s 11th-round knockout at the hands of the Japanese.
“As an athlete, we must walk the path of an athlete. As an athlete, the most important thing is discipline. This is the most basic and fundamental aspect of being an athlete.
“We had to turn down big brands, watches, product launches, not huge money but good money,” he said.
“Why does the athlete have to go this way? Rex needs to put sport as his number one priority. He’s a superstar of sport and not a superstar of artistes.
“In Hong Kong, we understand it’s tough surviving as an athlete. You cannot survive without commercial support, too.”
Lau said Tso’s training for the Kono fight was going “very well” at DEF boxing gym in Sheung Wan.
Tso has been sparring with 28-year-old Japanese super featherweight Takuya Watanabe (32-7-1, 17 KOs), a WBC youth lightweight title-holder, as well as Filipino bantamweight and “knockout artist” Rey Megrino.
“Watanabe has been sparring with Rex for almost a month now. Watanabe will also be on the undercard on October 7 and will fight for the WBO super featherweight Oriental title,” said Lau.
“Watanabe has sparred with Naoya Inoue before and actually put Inoue out of action for about a year . Inoue broke a finger while sparring with Watanabe, who also suffered a fractured elbow during sparring.
“I want Rex to spar against Watanabe and feel the difference because Rex might fight Inoue in future,” added Lau.
Inoue (13-0-0, 11 KOs) is one of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighters and is the reigning WBO super flyweight champion.