You can run, but you can’t hide: Battered Hong Kong superstar Rex Tso must confront a daunting reality
The ‘Wonder Kid’ is taking a six-month enforced break but the time will come when he needs to return to the ring – and go through hell all over again
“You can run, but you can’t hide”. Those were the immortal words of one of the all-time boxing greats, Joe Louis, who chastened young challenger Billy Conn on the eve of their heavyweight title bout in 1941.
Irish-American Conn was the light heavyweight champion of the world, who came close to the unthinkable by defeating the “Brown Bomber”. While leading by eight rounds to two, Conn made the fatal mistake of trying to slug it out with Louis, only to get knocked out in the 13th round.
Louis’ famous catchphrase resonates with Hong Kong’s own Rex Tso Sing-yu, who faces a long time away from the ring to take care of – among other things – a left eye battered during last month’s clash against Japan’s Kohei Kono.
Watch: Rex Tso the Wonder Kid’s knockouts/highlights
Tso took to Instagram and Facebook to announce he was taking “a six months’ break”, saying doctors had advised him to take time off to give his body, mind and especially his swollen eye a complete rest.
The 30-year-old southpaw’s announcement raises more questions than it answers – surely it will be at least nine months – possibly a year – before there’s any chance of him returning to the ring. As the Hong Kong superstar said last week, he’s not going to undergo commercial work, conduct media interviews or train for the next six months – nada – “to make sure his eyes fully recover”.
If there is one athlete in Hong Kong who deserves a long rest, it is Tso, but does the Hong Kong superstar need to shut himself off for that long?
The long absence leads to speculation that he’s suffering from more than just a bruised eye. Despite walking away with a controversial victory over Kono and keeping his unbeaten record intact, Tso must be disillusioned and demoralised by his body letting him down again.
Tso has already suffered a lot, from heavily bruised knuckles to badly bruised ribs but the Hong Kong hero usually bounced back. He knows he must eventually return to boxing at some point.
He must carry on what he’s been doing admirably for the past six years. And he must decide whether he wants a rematch with Kono or go straight for a world super flyweight title fight against one of the three fighters who hold the WBC, WBO and IBF titles.
If he chooses the world title path then good luck to him – he couldn’t be fighting in a tougher division. Whatever route he chooses, there’s no easy way out. Kono? Tso has already proven he was good enough to beat the ageing “Tough Boy” in six rounds with one good eye.
Does our unbeaten southpaw really want to face Japan’s “Monster” Naoya Inoue or look elsewhere? There are other options, but they are fraught with danger. He could challenge Filipino’s Jerwin Ancajas for his IBF title; go toe-to-toe with Britain’s Khalid Yafai, who retained his WBA crown on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua-Carlos Takam heavyweight duel last weekend; or he could challenge Thai super fighter Srisaket Sor Rungvisai for his WBC title.
As good as Tso is, deciding to challenge Inoue, Yafai or Srisaket is extremely daunting – almost suicidal.
These guys are monsters in an ultra competitive division and facing any of them could prove beyond Tso who will need to step it up to a whole new level to have any chance of victory.
Which leads us to believe that Tso could play it safe by crossing swords with Kono again to complete some unfinished business after some fans were left disgruntled as to how he managed to pull off a win despite the fight being stopped because of his serious injury.
Well, he did win and according to the rules, he won the fight unanimously up to the point the bout was stopped at the start of the seventh round. Tso could answer his critics the best way he knows by fighting Kono again or he could finally take the plunge and challenge for the world title – that’s if he decides to return to the grind. Deep inside, Tso probably wants another go at Kono, hoping for fairer circumstances.
Whatever the case, Tso will have to make a brave decision – and soon. He will have a lot of soul-searching to do over the next six months but he needs to decide what’s best for him.
The Wonder Kid has continued to amaze fans with his tenacity and determination and he’s still an undefeated world title contender with many things going for him. Hopefully, he will return reinvigorated and continue to do what he does best. His legion of fans will be anxiously waiting for his next move.