Will Mayweather remain undefeated?
Floyd Mayweather stunned the world when he recently announced he’ll return to action at New Year’s Eve 2019 in Saitama, Japan.
What’s more surprising, though, wasn’t the fact that the unbeaten 41-year-old is coming out of retirement; he had done that once after a quick stint with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
It wasn’t also the fact that it’ll be as soon as early next year; he teased a return for December and implied he’s granting Manny Pacquiao a rematch. It wasn’t even about him competing in a non-boxing contest. He told us he’d take on UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
But Mayweather does what Mayweather does, and what he does is hit you with something you don’t see coming. In a press conference in Tokyo, Japan yesterday, “Money” revealed that his comeback will be against 20-year-old kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, under Asian MMA promotion RIZIN.
Of course, the natural response to this is: Who is Tenshin Nasukawa? Well, let’s hear it from Joe Rogan, the voice of the UFC himself.
“He’s a true striking genius. I doubt Floyd is going to agree to any rules that allow Tenshin to kick, but if he does it could be a terrible night for him,” Rogan wrote on Instagram.
“This kid is the truth.”
If Rogan’s Instagram post wasn’t enough to convince you that Nasukawa is a legit foe, let’s take a crash course on the youngster’s career highlights.
The Japanese word “Nasukawa” directly translates to knockout in English. Okay, I made that up. But Nasukawa is truly blessed with speed, power, and precision, which gives him the ability dish out a KO at any given moment of each round.
Nasukawa is the embodiment of a prodigy. At 13, he was streaking up the ranks of the amateur kickboxing scene in Japan. Two years later, Nasukawa went pro as a high school student.
Studying while fighting professionally was a tough balancing act to pull off but in 2017, Nasukawa had tallied a perfect 25-0 record and graduated in the same year.
Road to Superstardom
At a young age, Nasukawa dreamed of being in the limelight.
“I practiced karate until I was in sixth grade. I was winning competitions at a national level, but at the same time, there were the big shows like K-1 and Pride,” Nasukawa said in May, per Bleacher Report. “I wanted to participate on that big stage. There was no specific individual that inspired me. I was attracted to the stage.”
Last September, Nasukawa captured the RIZIN bantamweight title by scoring a unanimous decision win over erstwhile champion Kyoji Horiguchi.
But Nasukawa craves for a brighter spotlight. This is the reason why agreeing to fight Mayweather was a no-brainer for the up-and-coming star. “Honestly it was [a] surprise offer but I accepted without hesitation,” said the Tokyo native.
Gunning for History
Mayweather, of course, isn’t new to crossover fights. His most recent outing featured a 10th-round stoppage of UFC star Conor McGregor, who was making his pro boxing debut.
Unlike the Irishman though, Nasukawa isn’t a mainstream entity. So why did Mayweather pick him? (Besides the fact that Mayweather’s company “The Money Team” seemingly has a partnership deal with RIZIN.)
“He’s young and he’s undefeated so it’s obvious he’s doing something right,” Mayweather said of Nasukawa.
Mayweather won’t be the first boxer Nasukawa faces either. He outgunned former IBF flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng in a Muay Thai showdown last year.
And while the rules of the upcoming crossover bout are yet to be specified, Nasukawa is confident he’ll accomplish what 50 other men could not.
“It’s the biggest moment in my life and I want to be the man who changes history. I’ll do that with these fists, with one punch — just watch.”
With reports from Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Featured image from Katsuya Miyagawa/Kyodo News via Associated Press (AP).
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