Hong Kong boxer Rex Tso is riding a string of successes — 18 straight victories including 10 knockouts — to the biggest test in his career, a shot at the World Boxing Association (WBA) superflyweight championship in December.
That chance will come if Tso beats Thailand’s No. 2 contender Norasing Kokietgym in September after the homegrown Wonder Kid takes on South Korean Young Gil-bae in a warm-up match in May.
Japan’s Kohei Kono, the reigning WBA champion, would then be the only one standing between Tso and a historic world title for Hong Kong.
Tso’s impressive collection already includes the scalp of Filipino champion Michael Enriquez whom he beat in March last year to win the WBA international flyweight crown.
But it has not always been a straight line to the top.
The 28-year-old had been something of a tumbleweed as a young man growing up in Tuen Mun, he told Metro Daily.
His aimless wanderings stopped when he went into boxing five years ago.
With his single-minded chase of boxing glory, Tso has little time for trivial pursuits.
“Your physique can deteriorate after 30. Everything depends on what you do to keep in shape,” he said.
“Doing nothing about it is already a step backwards.”
Tso said he was inspired when he learned Financial Secretary John Tsang is a fan.
Tsang has been among the first to toast Tso on his successes, often posting congratulatory messages on his blog.
Still, Tso was not sure boxing was the right career for him.
“You were unknown overseas and you got booed all the time. It was a very difficult time as no one from Hong Kong had done it before,” he said, recalling the early days.
“There are 100,000 reasons to quit but you only need one reason to continue. You take a deep breath and go on.”
Now having made a go of it, Tso takes nothing for granted.
His fight with Young may not be as consequential as the two others but Tso is preparing for it with all the focus and seriousness every one of his fights deserves.
Tso is traveling to the southern Philippine city of Cebu to set up a three-month training camp for the May fight.
Tso is well aware of the daunting tasks ahead of him, so he is taking things one step at a time.
Even his approach to retirement — or how long he will stay in the game — is measured, although he thinks an average boxer could be competitive until his forties.
That is an eternity for many athletes. Tso has only just begun.
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