DESPITE the uncertainty surrounding Floyd Mayweather’s on-off exhibition ‘bout’ with kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, the ‘contest’ did in fact go ahead at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan on New Year’s Eve.
The curious spectacle – for which Mayweather reportedly earned $9 million – headlined the Rizin 14 show, staged by Japan-based MMA promotion, Rizin Fighting Federation.
The Mayweather-Nasukawa event – refereed by Kenny Bayless and featuring a maximum weight limit of 147lbs – was scheduled for three three-minute rounds, with the normal rules of boxing applying. However, no judges were present and the exhibition will not be included on either fighter’s official record.
In retired former pound-for-pound king Mayweather, who famously boasts a 50-0 boxing ledger – Nasukawa was facing a man more than double his age, with the Japanese southpaw being just 20 years old. Nonetheless, Nasukawa entered proceedings possessing sparkling unbeaten résumés as both a kickboxer and MMA competitor.
Mayweather turned up late to the venue after being held up by vast crowds at his hotel. The exhibition eventually took place, albeit far later than initially planned.
The usually supremely conditioned Mayweather did not look quite as ripped as we are accustomed to seeing him, yet his significant size advantage over Nasukawa was plainly clear for all to see.
The American, grinning throughout, pawed out his jab in the early stages. Nasukawa’s speed was evident when he landed a flashing overhand left, yet, unfortunately for the youngster, his inability to hurt Mayweather was also apparent.
Seemingly irritated by Nasukawa having the temerity to actually connect with a punch, Mayweather responded by dropping him with a left hook midway through the opener. Nasukawa rose on unsteady legs but was soon down again following a big right uppercut. A third knockdown resulted in Nasukawa’s corner throwing in the towel just before the bell to end the first round had sounded.
Afterwards, Mayweather described Nasukawa as “a great champion” and declared: “It was all about entertainment. We had fun.”
Mayweather certainly had fun, but the same cannot be said for Nasukawa, or any true boxing fan who witnessed this bizarre ‘attraction’.