Fighters rarely provide thriller after thriller after thriller. Where they do they tend to lose, due to accumulation of damage from wars adding up. Thankfully though we have had fighters who seemed to realise that boxing was part of the entertainment game and realised they needed to do more than just win. They needed to put on a show. They needed to excite fans. They needed to capture the imagination of those watching. In recent years there has been one particular fighter from Hong Kong who did just that. In fact that he put Hong Kong boxing on the map, before deciding to chase an Olympic dream, fighting for his country, rather than fighting for a professional world title and personal glory.
Of course that fighter was Rex Tso, and in we're being honest we could, and we will, go through a number of his great fights during this "Closet Classic" series, though today we start with one where he took on an unbeaten man, who attempted to win and put his name on the proverbial boxing map, giving us something amazing and giving his everything.
Rex Tso (19-0, 12) vs Ryuto Maekawa (11-0-1, 7)
By late 2016 Rex Tso had become the face of the Hong Kong boxing movement, he was a local star with the appeal, style and look to become much, much bigger than just the figure for Hong Kong. His all action fighting style meant he was potentially a figure head for Asian boxing in the coming years. He had marched up the world rankings on the back of 19 straight wins, picking up regional titles along the way and was looking like a world title fight was just around the corner. Like him or loathe him he was must watch TV, and DEF Promotions knew they had someone with star potential on their hands. The Wonder Kid was a made for TV fighter, and was a fighter who was attracting buzz from outside of just the boxing world.
Even prior to this fight Tso had been in amazing battles with Mako Matsuyama, Ratchasak KKP, Michael Enriquez, and would later go on to have sensational bouts with Hirofumi Mukai and Kohei Kono.
Whilst Rex Tso was already a star Ryuto Maekawa really wasn't. He was a relative unknown outside of the true hardcore fans of the Japanese scene, and even then he was hardly known by local fans. He had been on a few televised cards, though his most notable results were hardly footnotes on those cards, such as a draw with Cris Alfante and a blow out over Bimbo Nacionales. Despite being relatively unknown Maekawa was regarded as a hard hitting 20 year old prospect, who knew a win here of Tso would see his stock fly through the roof and leave him on the verge of a potential world title eliminator. All he had to do was get past Tso on October 8th 2016.
The fight started with a bit of a feeling out round, albeit a busier and more active one than your typical opening round, it was as if they started in second gear, rather than the typical slow paced start we see with fighters easing themselves into the fight. From then on things got better and better, with the fighters upping their output round by round.
By the time we got into round 6 and 7 the bout was becoming a fight, with Tso pressing and Maekawa responding with shots of his own between Tso's combinations. Both fighters were taking clean shots, both were letting punches go and both were willing to stand and trade at mid and close range. Amazingly things never really slowed down from there with both continuing to fire off combinations. Although one man was getting the better of it, round after round, the will of both was incredible and the action was fantastic. Even with swelling on his face and whilst in a huge hole Maekawa refused to just lose and gave all he had, right through to the final bell.
This was great, and even though Maekawa had to spend time in hospital after the bout, the fight is something every fight fan should give a watch to, and don't worry we will have more Rex Tso fights featred in our Close Classic in the future,
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