Bob Arum has two items that stand above all others on his wish list – he wants to own another heavyweight champion and he wants to grow professional boxing into a mainstream sport in the Asian market while developing Asian fighters into global attractions. The venerable Hall of Fame promoter is having a tough time getting a foothold in the high rent district of the heavyweight class – the only heavyweight in his stable is blubbery Andy Ruiz Jr – but he’s making significant inroads in Asia. If all goes according to plan, Arum’s company, Top Rank, will stage a WBA title fight in Hong Kong by the end of the year, a historic first for the former British protectorate where boxing has never been a significant component of the sporting landscape.
Arum is mapping out the title fight for super flyweight Rex Tso, the 28-year-old “Wonder Kid” who is the first professional boxer of note to bubble out of Hong Kong. Tso (18-0, 11 KOs) will need to win twice more to secure the title shot. The first hump comes Saturday, May 14, when he opposes South Korea’s Young Gil Bae (27-5-1, 21 KOs) in a 12-round contest at Hong Kong’s Convention and Exposition Center. At stake are two regional title belts.
A 5’7” southpaw, Tso comes from a boxing family. His father and a brother competed as amateurs. His 36-year-old opponent has been in with some tough customers, but has run into difficulty when moving up in class.
A fighter that may have an even bigger upside than Tso, Ryan Murata, will be featured in the main supporting bout. Murata (9-0, 6 KOs) represented Japan in the 2012 Olympics where he won the gold medal in the middleweight division. He was the first Japanese boxer to win an Olympic medal since 1968 and only the second gold medalist in Japan’s Olympic boxing history. His opponent is Brazil’s Felipe Santos Pedroza (13-1, 11 KOs). Pedroza is on a seven fight W/TKO run, but against mostly motley competition.
Murata’s next fight has already been arranged. He is slated to meet George “Camanche Boy” Tahdooahnippah on July 23 on the undercard of the Crawford-Pistol WBC/WBO World super lightweight title clash at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.