There aren't too many fighters who will get multiple mentions in this series, but today's Closet Classic features one man's third entry and one man's second. The bout featured two true action men in the ring and it was clear, as soon as the bout was signed, that we would be getting something special. We would be getting warriors beating lumps out of each other and we would be getting the Wonder Boy and the Tough Boy.
Rex Tso (21-0, 13) Vs Kohei Kono (33-10-1, 14)
Local Hong Kong star Rex Tso seemed to be edging his way towards a world title as we headed into winter 2017. The all action "Wonder Boy" had the backing not just of local promoter DEF Boxing but numerous sponsors, who were all putting money behind Tso to try and get him a shot at the WBO world title. As we entered this bout he had climbed to the verge of a title shot and had wowed fans with thrilling bouts against the likes of Hirofumi Mukai and Ryuto Maekawa. Although not the most polished of fighters Tso was more skilled than people seemed to give him credit for. He just often abandoned his skills to have a fan friendly tear up instead, and often went toe-to-toe with fighters, bringing out the most fun to watch bouts he could. He was an action fighter and at 30 years old it seemed 2018 was going to be the year that he broke into the big time.
The 36 year old Kohei Kono was dubbed the "Tough Boy", he was rugged and had only been stopped once in 34 bouts, by Naoya Inoue. As a 2-time world champion he had proven his ability at the highest level and even at 36 years old he had a great engine, a solid chin and a desire to always give his all. Although not a major star he had a real cult following that had expanded outside of Japan with fans knowing Kono could provide fun bouts, and that was notably shown in the US when he faced off with Koki Kameda in the first ever all-Japanese world title to take place in America. Past his best, and with losses in 2 of his previous 3, he was expected to be too a good name for Tso to get on his record and wasn't expected to have the legs and energy to push the Hong Kong local too hard here.
Straight from the off it was clear Kono had more in the tank than many had anticipated. He was on the front foot straight away and trying to cut the ring down, taking the legs of Tso away and pressing the local star. To his credit Tso shows that he could respond to the pressure by both moving, or fighting fire with fire.
It was the "fighting fire with fire" that we were hoping to see, and as the bout went on, and as Tso's legs began to slow, there was a growing amount of fiery action, hastened in part to a headclash in round 2 that had damaged the eye of Tso. The damage, originally, wasn't too bad but it would later get worse and ended up as a grotesque swelling around the eye.
As the swelling got worse it forced Tso to stand and fight, and also gave Kono a real target to attack. This was where the fight, and action began to go through the gears, with desperation striking both men.
Sadly the ending was rather inconclusive, and left a tarnish to the fight that the action didn't deserve, but what we'd had to get to that point had been enthralling, from the first bell to the last.
Sadly the injury that Tso suffered kept him out of the ring all together for a long stretch of time, before resurfaced as an amateur fighter, and began to try and make his way to the 2020 Olympics. As for Kono he would fight just once more before hanging up the gloves after 46 professional bouts.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features