Saturday night, at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, Hong Kong-based contender Rex Tso, 21-0, 13 KO’s defeated Japan’s Hirofumi Mukai, 13-5-3, 3 KO’s by eighth-round knockout in a wild brawl.
Tso scored knockdowns in rounds three and six before finishing Mukai at the :32 second mark of the eighth. A straight left to the body by Tso put Mukai down for a third time, convincing referee Danrex Tapdasan to waive off the bout. The fight was a back-and-forth affair for most of the contest, with both men starting out with jabs before opting to trade power shots midway through the first round. Mukai received a cut on his left eye due to an accidental headbutt by the time the round ended.
Mukai, who had twice challenged for world titles, settling for a technical draw against Pongsaklek Wonjongkam for the WBC flyweight title in 2011, and being stopped by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in nine rounds for the WBC junior bantamweight title in 2013, got the better of the action in round two by counter punching off Tso’s aggression.
“I couldn’t hear anything in the second round after I got caught by Mukai’s left hook. I couldn’t hear what my coach was saying. Luckily, I survived this”, said the 29-year old phenom. Tso retained his WBO International Super Flyweight title and WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Flyweight title, while winning Mukai’s WBO Asian-Pacific title.
Tso, who dropped Mukai in the third round with a quick straight left, began utilizing his better skills to wear down his opponent. Despite the knockdown, Mukai still had his opportunities, firing back with fewer punches but landing with eye-catching, flush shots. Unfortunately, Tso’s subtle advantage in technique started to give him the edge and allowed him to take control of the contest in the fifth round.
After a right hook put Mukai down in the sixth round, Tso finished the brawl with a barrage of punches in the eighth round. Trapped along the ropes, Mukai was unable to defend himself, prompting the referee to halt the contest.
Tso, ranked in the top 15 by all four of the major sanctioning bodies (No. 1 in the WBO) at 115 pounds, is hoping to face former WBA junior bantamweight titleholder Kohei Kono, 32-10-1, 13 KOs in October. Tso’s manager Jay Lau says he will be traveling to Tokyo this coming week to discuss the fight with Kono’s manager Hitoshi Watanabe.
“It was a very hard fight,” said Tso afterwards. “I have a few injuries to my face, but I am okay”.Contact the Feature Writers