Sports / Boxing

World title challenge Tso close, yet so far

By Murray Greig (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-18 07:24

World title challenge Tso close, yet so far

Hong Kong's Rex Tso celebrates his super flyweight win over Thailand's Susu Sithjadeang at The Venetian Macao last fall. Dale De La Rey / AFP

Undefeated Hong Kong brawler sets sights on WBC champion

Timing is everything in the sweet science.

Two months ago, Hong Kong's unbeaten Rex Tso Sing-yu looked like the odds-on favorite to become China's next world champion.

Today? Not so much.

In February, Tso (12-0, 8 KOs) knocked out Japan's Mako Matsuyama in Macao to retain the World Boxing Council's Asian continental super flyweight title and add the World Boxing Organization's Asia-Pacific junior bantamweight crown to his collection.

That stylish victory elevated Tso to No 11 in the WBC global rankings and positioned him for a shot at International Boxing Federation world champion Daiki Kameda, but the Japanese fighter recently relinquished the belt because of difficulties making the 115-pound weight limit.

The title will now be contested by the IBF's top two contenders: Zolani Tete of South Africa and Teiru Kinoshita of Japan.

Tso, who will fight a 10-rounder against an as yet unsigned opponent at The Venetian Macao on May 31, has now set his sights on WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand (27-3-1, 25 KOs) - but he will have to wait in line.

Rungvisai is also fighting on May 31 - a compulsory title defense against No 1-ranked Carlos Cuadras (29-0, 24 KOs) in Mexico City.

No matter who wins, Tso will likely be well down the list of potential challengers.

"I studied Kameda for months, so when I heard he gave up his title I was very disappointed that I won't get to fight him," the 26-year-old Tso told the South China Morning Post before heading to Bangkok to accept the WBC's Asian Prospect of the Year award this month.

"I was eager to fight Kameda and I was planning how to beat him. I was excited about the prospect of fighting him, and I was confident of winning.

"Now I have to take a different path, but I still remain hopeful of becoming a world champion one day."

In the meantime, Tso's trainer-manager Jay Lau Chi-yuen will concentrate on refining and improving the talented southpaw's inside fighting. Impressive wins on May 31 and in a tune-up bout slated for late July could leapfrog Tso right into the mix for a crack at the WBC crown.

"Rex has to improve exchanging punches when he goes toe-toe at close range," Lau told the Post.

"He needs two more bouts in which to show improvements."

Besides Tso, the May 31 card at The Venetian will feature Dalian middleweight Ik Yang (13-0, 8 KOs) and Macao super welterweight prospect Ng Kuok-kun (3-0, 1 KO).

The headliner will see four-division world champion Nonito Donaire of the Philippines (32-2, 20 KOs) challenge WBA super featherweight champ Simpiwe Vetyeka of South Africa (26-2, 15 KOs), while the co-features have undefeated WBA featherweight titleholder Nicholas Walters of Jamaica (23-0, 19 KOs) taking on Vic Darchinyan of Armenia (39-6-1, 28 KOs) and 18-0 Evgeny Gradovich - aka 'The Mexican Russian' - defending his IBF featherweight title against Belgium's Alex Miskirtchian (24-2-1).

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