Top Rank in Hong Kong: Cultivating a Home-Grown Champion

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.

 

 

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-SuperLight :

My coach is supposed to be at Rex's card tonight as a spectator. I gave it a miss this time in favour of time with my young family. I like what I've seen of Rex as a fighter. He seems like a cool and humble guy. Wouldn't say he's a superstar or anything, but bordering on a household name for locals. Most of the general public sees more of Thai boxing than anything else. Whether the movies started it, I'm not sure, but there are kick fit classes and genuine Thai boxing gyms all over the place. As for other boxers in east and S-e Asia, when Manny's hung them up: I think most of us see the skills shown by a few Japanese fighters. Not sure who, if any, of them Arum is or will be promoting. I wouldn't pin hopes on Zou Shiming becoming a big hit internationally representing greater China as a pro.


-Radam G :

My coach is supposed to be at Rex's card tonight as a spectator. I gave it a miss this time in favour of time with my young family. I like what I've seen of Rex as a fighter. He seems like a cool and humble guy. Wouldn't say he's a superstar or anything, but bordering on a household name for locals. Most of the general public sees more of Thai boxing than anything else. Whether the movies started it, I'm not sure, but there are kick fit classes and genuine Thai boxing gyms all over the place. As for other boxers in east and S-e Asia, when Manny's hung them up: I think most of us see the skills shown by a few Japanese fighters. Not sure who, if any, of them Arum is or will be promoting. I wouldn't pin hopes on Zou Shiming becoming a big hit internationally representing greater China as a pro.
For boksing, Zou is old. His days are numbered. Holla!