Ain’t gonna be no rematch: Kohei Kono moves up to bantamweight, dashing hopes of fighting Hong Kong’s Rex Tso again

The 38-year-old ‘Tough Boy’ will fight in the 118 pound division and has Australian Jason Moloney in his sights as he looks to prolong his career

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 6:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 10:27pm

Six months after losing to Hong Kong’s Rex Tso Sing-yu in somewhat controversial circumstances, Japanese veteran Kohei Kono has decided he had waited long enough.

A much-anticipated rematch between two sluggers who rocked the house in Clash of Champions 3 last October appears slim now after Kono decided to move up a division to bantamweight.

Fans had been eager for a rematch after Tso extended his winning streak as a super flyweight (115 pounds) to 22 bouts despite the fight being stopped in the seventh round after a ringside doctor examined Tso’s almost completely shut left eye.

Tso suffered a sickening clash of heads in the second round of the scheduled 12-round contest but still won the bout on points, improving his record to 20-0-0, 13 KOs, while Kono’s record dropped to 33-11-1, 14 KOs.

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Some fans had complained that Tso shouldn’t have won the fight as he was clearly hampered with his injury, but the “Wonder Kid” had done enough to win on points. All three judges scored it an identical 68-66 up to the moment the fight was stopped.

Former WBA world champion Kono had said after the fight that he wanted a rematch but hopes of Tso-Kono II is unlikely to happen with Kono now competing in the 118 pound division. The Japanese also has a fight lined up on May 19 in Australia as he looks to prolong his career.

The 37-year-old “Tough Boy” Kono will face unbeaten Jason Moloney (16-0-0, 13 KOs), at Malvern Town Hall in Melbourne with the 27-year-old Australian out to defend his WBA Oceania bantamweight strap.

“Kohei Kono is a two-time world champion and will definitely be the toughest opponent that I have faced. Kono has only been stopped once in his career which was to the highly rated Naoya Inoue which tells me he is also very durable. I think the aggressive, come forward style which Kono brings will make for a very exciting fight,” said Moloney.

Tso, meanwhile, has made no indication when he might return to the ring as his sabbatical looks likely to stretch for another three to six months.

Last week, the 30-year-old southpaw was named the best male athlete at the Hong Kong Sports Press Association (HKSPA) athletes awards, taking home a cheque for HK$10,000. Snooker queen Ng On-yee was named best female athlete.

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With Tso unsure exactly when he will be back, his long absence from the ring will also mean he is likely to pass up a chance of earning a shot at the vacant WBO super flyweight title.