Floyd Mayweather, Tenshin Nasukawa and Rizin Fighting Federation: Explained
RT Sport gives you the lowdown on his opponent, Rizin and discusses whether this is a publicity stunt or true athletic endeavor.
Combat sports retirements are often a temporary affair. More than a year since briefly coming out of retirement to face Conor McGregor in a money-spinning boxing match in Las Vegas, Mayweather has once again opted to step into the ring.
This time as part of the Rizin Fighting Federation mixed martial arts promotion, where he will face their brightest star: 20-year-old kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa.
Much like his opponent on December 31, Nasukawa has yet to taste defeat in professional competition. The southpaw has registered 27 wins in kickboxing, as well as a further 4 victories in mixed martial arts and recently defeated former UFC title challenger Kyoji Horiguchi in a three-round kickboxing bout.
The ruleset under which the bout will take place has yet to be officially confirmed, though it is unlikely that Mayweather’s team will entertain the idea of it taking place under mixed martial arts or kickboxing rules. If there is to be some compromise from Mayweather, it is perhaps likely that he may acquiesce to the fight taking place in the MMA gloves - 4oz, compared to either 8oz or 10oz boxing gloves.
Should the bout be contested under kickboxing rules, Nasukawa would be considered a strong favourite against the multiple weight world champion boxer. Perhaps ominously for Mayweather, Nasukawa has already faced former IBF boxing world champion Amrat Ruenroeng in a kickboxing match won by a left hook to the body in the fourth round.
The match-up appears to be the brainchild of Rizin promoter Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the former Pride Fighting Championships chief.
Since its inception in 2015, the organisation has become notorious for its sometimes bizarre matchmaking.
On their New Year’s Eve card in 2016, for example, Rizin came under extreme criticism for booking the then 30-year-old, 225lb Gabi Garcia against 50-year-old professional wrestling personality Yumiko Hotta. Garcia won in brutal fashion 40-seconds into the contest.
In Nasukawa though, Rizin have a fighter on the cusp of international stardom in his chosen discipline. While Mayweather is undoubtedly the ‘A-side’ when it comes to this pairing, if Nasukawa can tempt ‘Money’ out of his comfort zone during the bout we could see one of the most shocking results in recent combat sports history.
But, as ever, the smart money is on the fighter who has navigated challenger after challenger for more than two decades in the evergreen Mayweather.