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Boxing: HK’s Tso earns world title shot, vows to be ‘another Bruce Lee’

Rex Tso wears the WBA International Super Flyweight belt after his 16th straight pro win. Photos: Top Rank.

Rex Tso wears the WBA International Super Flyweight belt after his 16th straight pro win. Photos: Top Rank.

March 7, 2015: An emotional Rex Tso vowed to be “another Bruce Lee” after beating Michael ‘Blade’ Enriquez at The Venetian Macao on Saturday night to become the first Hong Kong boxer to earn a world title shot.

 

Tso, 27, burst into tears after edging a 10-round unanimous decision (95-94, 95-94, 96-93) to win the WBA International Super Flyweight belt on ‘The Showdown at Sands’ undercard at the Cotai Arena.

 

The Hong Kong fighter is now expected to challenge Japan’s Kohei Kono for the WBA world title in July, according to pre-fight comments by promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, which recently signed Tso to a five-fight, two-year deal.

 

“I was crying because of this,” said ‘The Wonder Kid’, holding up his latest belt after the fight.

 

“I’ve made a big step again. I hope in the next fight I can challenge the world champion. My next aim is to win a world title and to really popularise the sport of boxing in Hong Kong and around the region.

 

“I hope for Hong Kong that I can make another Bruce Lee. In the future, when people think of Hong Kong, I hope that they don’t just think of Bruce Lee; they also think of Rex Tso.”

 

Hong Kong's ‘Wonder Kid’ and Filipino Michael ‘Blade’ Enriquez slugged it out for 10 rounds at The Venetian Macao.

Hong Kong’s ‘Wonder Kid’ and Filipino Michael ‘Blade’ Enriquez slugged it out for 10 rounds at The Venetian Macao.

However, Tso admitted he struggled to dominate the shorter Enriquez, who looked dangerous throughout the fight and caught the crowd favourite with several clean head shots that made an expectant crowd nervous.

 

“I tried to get under him, but because he was shorter, he got in the way,” admitted Tso, who has now won 16 straight fights as a pro, nine by knockout.

 

“It was actually very difficult. I took a lot of body shots so it did affect my stamina. I realise there’s room for improvement and I think I’ll do better next time.”

 

Tso entered the ring with a rarely seen intensity and within 30 seconds made Enriquez’s knees wobble. As usual, the all-action Tso was keen to get into the mix rather than keeping the shorter Filipino at arm’s length and soon walked into a couple of straight rights from Enriquez, who showed impressive punching power from close range.

 

The Filipino came out firing out in the second, but Tso absorbed the attack, with the round concluding with both fighters swinging wildly and bringing the crowd to their feet. Tso was generally on top in the third, but ate a couple of big punches at the end, with both fighters again slugging until the bell.

 

Early in the fourth, Tso recovered from some big hits, before knocking down the Filipino, who looked a spent force for the rest of the round and looked ripe for a knockdown.

 

However, Enriquez made it to the bell, made the most of the break and enjoyed a second wind in the fifth, while by the sixth it was Tso’s turn to look tired, with the fighters leaning on each other for much of the round.

 

Tso looked stronger in the seventh, but despite continuing to be the aggressor, always looked vulnerable to counterpunches. Both also looked tired in the eighth round, with the biggest highlight an Enriquez punch after the bell that spurred ‘boos’ from the crowd and mock raised arms from the Filipino.

 

A chorus of ‘jia you’ rang out around the Cotai Arena at the start of the ninth as the crowd bayed for Tso to finish the job, but a 10th round was required.

 

Typical of Tso, the Hong Kong fighter hugged Enriquez before the final round, but the Filipino came out firing, knowing he needed a knockout to win the contest. Enriquez caught the Hong Kong hero with some hard head shots, but Tso’s stamina and balance carried him through to the end.

 

Local hero Ng Kuok Kun had a mixed performance in the previous bout, with ‘The Macau Kid’ recovering from a career-first knockdown in the opening round before beating Chingchai Kiatpracha with a third-round knockout for a seventh straight win in the pro ranks.

 

In the night’s first two fights, Aston Palicte, 23, of the Philippines was impressive in his seven-round stoppage of gutsy Mexican Ismael Garnica, whose compatriot Jose Felix Jr then avenged him by knocking out Filipino Raymond Sermona in the first round.

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