FLOYD Mayweather Jr’s most recent fight fascinated the public from the moment it was announced, coming against one of the most recognisable MMA stars of all time.
Mayweather’s next opponent will send most of his fans on a Google search.
On New Year’s Eve, Mayweather, 41, will again come out of retirement and fight — a match of undetermined rules — Japan’s Tenshin Nasukawa, who is also undefeated in the ring, holding a 27-0 record in kickboxing and a 4-0 mark in MMA.
The two will square off at an event for the Rizin Fighting Federation — a Japanese MMA promotion founded in 2015.
“When I was offered this, I accepted right away without any delay whatsoever,” Nasukawa said through a translator. “I would probably say this is my biggest event in life so far, and I’m very happy this is going to materialise.
“I’m a little surprised myself. Nobody has defeated my opponent in the past, and I’d like to be the man who makes history. My punch can change history. I will show that to you, so please stay tuned.”
Nasukawa, 20, has significant hurdles to overcome, beyond experience. Mayweather (50-0) is 1.73m tall. Nasukawa is 1.65m. Mayweather fought UFC superstar Conor McGregor at 68kg. Nasukawa, a southpaw, currently holds the Rizin featherweight belt, at 57kg.
There’s a 21-year age difference between Mayweather and Nasukawa and they cut very different figures at yesterday’s press conference in Tokyo. The Japanese fighter, with dyed blond hair, wore a button-up shirt and jacket while “Money” showed up in a tracksuit.
Mayweather’s attire caught the attention of McGregor, who poked fun at his former foe on Instagram. The Irishman likened the odd couple to actors Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, the stars of the film franchise Rush Hour.
“Is that a tracksuit or a sauna suit Floyd haha wtf,” McGregor wrote. “Is it hot in Tokyo or what’s the story here? That climate change is no joke f*** me hahah.
“What in the f*** is going on here? Who’s this little prick next to you? That’s mad s***. Like something out of Rush Hour 5 or something. Chris Tucker and Jackie f***ing Chan back in this b***h.
“F***ing brilliant. Mad little b*****d you are Floyd. Fair f***s to you mate. No lie. F*** it.”
Nasukawa began kickboxing in the sixth grade and reportedly built a 99-5-1 amateur record, earning acclaim in February 2017 by knocking out former IBF flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng.
“I’m not particular about the rules, with or without kicks,” Nasukawa said of the upcoming bout with Mayweather. “Boxing rules I wouldn’t mind. My opponent looks taller than he actually is, but I think I could hit him.”
According to Bleacher Report, Nasukawa was showing something special in the kickboxing world from as young as 13 and reportedly went pro at 15.
“You could see the signs of a young star early … he styled on guys,” War Room MMA and Kickboxing coach Steven Wright told Bleacher Report. “He could beat you with clean kickboxing scores or take something he saw in a movie and perform it to perfection against an opponent.”
The Independent reports Nasukawa is also highly skilled in Muay Thai after training in Thailand and boasts 23 knockouts among his 27-0 pro kickboxing record. The young gun is also 4-0 in his pro MMA career and is one of the most marketable faces in the Rizin stable.
In May this year Nasukawa delivered a vicious move known as “rolling thunder” to send Yusaku Nakamura crumpling to the floor, connecting flush with the inside leg.
While the initial kick didn’t end the fight, Nasukawa delivered the finishing blow in the second round when he hit his opponent with a left hand that forced the referee to step in and call things off.
Nasukawa isn’t fearless, though.
“Ghosts are freaky as hell,” he told mixedmartialarts.com last March.
“There is definitely life outside of Earth for sure,” Nasukawa said. “I believe they were here before us.”
Mayweather said the “weight class and rules” will be finalised in the coming weeks, refusing to confirm whether the bout will be under boxing or MMA rules. The American, undefeated across 50 fights, has never fought outside the US, making his bizarre career move even more astonishing.
Rizin CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara said the MMA promotion was thrilled to have convinced Mayweather to take part in the “history making event”.
“First we had to convince Mr. Mayweather to come to the ring on the Rizin ring on December 31,” he said. “As you know Mr. Mayweather is undefeated. But all his fights have been in the US. He has had a wish to fight outside the US.
“We’re happy we’ve convinced him to come to Japan for this history making event. In the second phase, once we knew Mr. Mayweather would be in the Rizin ring on New Year’s Eve, we thought of the appropriate opponent and there was only one: Tenshin.”