By Unus Alladin
A relieved and physically hurt Hong Kong boxing superstar Rex Tso Sing-yu continued his winning streak in the most unusual circumstances on Saturday after his super fight against Kohei Kono was stopped in the seventh round of the Clash of Champions 3.
Having suffered a sickening clash of heads with Kono in the second round, Tso won on points when the referee stepped in to stop the fight at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Tso, who was taken to hospital, retained his WBO international super flyweight title.
With his left eye almost shut, the ringside doctor examined the fighter and declared the bout over but there was confusion and intrigue when they finally announced that Tso had retained his title.
Tso was expecting the worst as he slumped in his stool before the start of the seventh round. The unbeaten southpaw was forced yet again to come back from dire circumstances and it was heartbreaking to see the Hong Kong superstar struggle with his injury as he was clearly hampered.
But he did enough to win on points and seal victory yet again.
The Hong Kong boxer threw excellent combinations and kept the 36-year-old former two-time WBA champion at bay with his good counter-punching. But the pain must have been unbelievable.
“Sorry to my wife. I have hurt myself again. This time I really went for it. I followed my trainer’s advice. I have to thank my opponent Kono, He’s really so powerful. My head is really sore,” said a sobbing Tso who is now 22-0-0, 13 KOs
Tso was rushed to hospital – the first time as a professional – but he was well enough to speak to the delighted audience after his surprise victory.
“From the fourth round onwards I was super hurt but I had to continue,” he said. “Thanks Jake [trainer Vernano] and Ross Eathorne [conditioning and strength coach]. Thanks Jay Lau [his manager]. I did my very best!”
As boxing rules stipulates, if a clash of heads occurs during the first four rounds and if the doctor feels the bout must be stopped because a boxer cannot continue, they go to the scorecards. And Tso was leading the 12-round super flyweight contest on points against a highly aggressive and surprisingly game Kono. All three scorecards were an identical 68-66 in Tso’s favour.
Tso was first examined by the doctor in the sixth round. The referee momentarily stopped the fight to have the Hong Kong star looked at but with an assuring nod of head from the doctor, the fight went on to the roars of the 8,000 capacity crowd.
But his injury deteriorated with his left eye swollen to the point that he couldn’t see. And that’s when the referee asked for his eye to be examined again as the crowd hushed in silence, not sure what was happening. But as it turned out, it was all in Tso’s favour and he managed to retain his title and keep his unblemished record intact.
Promoter Lau said if the fight had been stopped within the first four rounds, it would have been a no-contest.
“The second round was an accidental headbutt. You could see that Rex’s head was completely swollen. The referee decided to carry on at first. He realised his left eye was completely shut. He couldn’t even see from that eye,” said Lau.
“After the referee and the doctor had a discussion, they decided to stop the fight then and there because they were worried that there may have been a fracture in his eye [socket]. Rex is going straight to the hospital. Don’t worry he can walk, stand and smile,” he said.