Tso bandwagon rolls on, Murata aiming at Saunders

Mathew Scott
14/05/2016 4:55pm

The Rex Tso bandwagon continues to gather momentum with Hong Kong’s first pro fighter landing his 19th straight win – and his 12th knockout – with a fourth-round stoppage of South Korean veteran Young Gil Bae Saturday night.

‘The Wonder Kid’ dominated the bout from the first bell and a volley of blows to the Korean’s head gave referee Danrex Tapdasan no option but to wave his hands and signal the end with 2.57 gone in the fourth.

Young had emerged from a standing eight count in the previous round but the damage had well and truly been done, Tso working his combinations up and down, and in and out, almost at will.

“I hit him bang on the chin with a left in the fourth and that’s when I knew I had him,” said the 28-year-old. 

“I was watching for his left hand but it never came. As the fight wore on, he was taking more and more punishment and I just knew I would win. I just wanted to charge at him and finish it.”

The southpaw rides a wave of enthusiasm into each of his fights and rarely takes a backward step – a worry, some might say, if (and when) he steps up in class and makes his way into a world title bout.

That’s expected to come early next year – with Japan’s WBA world super-flyweight champ Kohei Kono the target – and the 36-year-old Young (27-6-1, 24 KOs) was expected to pose questions Tso had not faced before.

The younger fighter instead took the initiative and, in the end, the WBO Asia Pacific and WBC Asia Boxing Council super-flyweight titles. Tso slumped to his knees when the fight ended. The fans rose to their feet as one. 

“He just gets better and better – Rex is a promoter’s dream,” said Top Rank’s Bob Arum, co-promoter of the card with local outfit DEF Promotions.

They’re not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to sports stars around these parts and the unassuming Tso can now been seen on billboards and buses around town sharing advertising space with the likes of ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

The 3,000 gathered at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre roared his arrival in the ring – and then every punch Tso threw thereafter. Politicians and film stars have flocked to his cause and Tso left the ring promising there was plenty more in store.

“The support drives me on,” said Tso. “It makes me want to give Hong Kong something to shout about” 

The local lad shared the billing on a seven-bout card with 2012 London Olympic middleweight gold medalist Ryota Murata, and the rising Japanese star’s impressive rise through the pro ranks continued with a dismantling of Brazilian Felipe Pedroso.

Murata stretched his record 10-0, 7 KOs with a TKO with 2:50 in the fourth of a scheduled eight rounds and was never worried in the slightest by a mismatched Pedroso (13-2, 11 KOs). A withering right uppercut towards the end of the first round sounded the Japanese fighter’s intentions and from then on in it seemed only a matter of time before his Brazilian opponent would succumb – and it was a right cross in the fourth that did the final damage.

The fight was held midway through the card so it could be beamed later in primetime in Japan where Murata has a fanbase to rival any rock star and he carries that air about him, too.

“I just knew if I found my range with my right it would be all over,” said the 30-year-old. “I have fought in China this year, in Hong Kong now and next I will go to the United States. I don’t care where I have to go. I will fight anyone, anywhere.”

Next up for Murata is George ‘Comanche Boy’ Tahdooahnippah on the undercard of the 23 July Crawford-Postol WBO/WBC super-lightweight title clash at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. 

But Top Rank’s Arum has his eyes set a little further down the horizon. “We’ve been talking to Frank Warren and we’re looking towards next spring or even this winter and [WBO middleweight champion] Billy Joe Saunders. Murata continues to impress.”