'We are not quite there yet': Rizin CEO Sakakibara wants to book Manny Pacquiao vs Takanori Gomi
It's a formula that proved hugely successful for Rizin on New Year's Eve when they staged an exhibition boxing bout between Floyd Mayweather and kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa at the Saitama Super Arena.
And Sakakibara says he would love to repeat the trick, using Pacquiao instead of Mayweather.Also on rt.com Pac-Man in Japan? MMA giants Rizin FF hint at Manny Pacquiao signing
"I would definitely be interested in talking to Manny about a possible exhibition match, but weare not quite there yet," he said as cited by MMA Fighting.
"But if it happens, I don't think it would be against Tenshin."
While the Mayweather-Nasukawa fight generated plenty of interest, the matchup ultimately proved to be a complete mismatch, with Nasukawa considerably smaller and lighter than Mayweather on fight night, while also having to compete in the 50-0 boxer's comfort zone.
"We learned a lot from dealing with Mayweather," he admitted, before saying he would love to match Pacquiao against Japanese MMA legend "The Fireball Kid" Takanori Gomi.
"If anybody were to fight Manny in an exhibition, it would have to be Gomi," he said.
Pacquiao will be in attendance at the upcoming Rizin 15 event on April 21, but will not be competing. Instead, he will be there to support his fellow countryman Fritz "Kid Tornado" Biagtan, who takes on Nasukawa on that card.
"My opponent is a fighter that Manny Pacquiao will support," commented Nasukawa, who is also pursuing glory in the RISE kickboxing tournament in Asia.
"I know he will be an extremely tough opponent," he said.
"I do not plan to take this lightly, but I am in the middle of the RISE tournament so I don't have time to be losing to anybody right now."