On News Years Eve Floyd Mayweather Jr took part in an exhibition match in Tokyo, Japan against a 20yr Kickboxing sensation named Tenshin Nasukawa.
Nasukawa was undefeated as a professional, not just in kickboxing, but in MMA too but this was to be a boxing match against a much older but much bigger boxer – not just any boxer but one who has arguably been the sport of boxings greatest pugilist in the 21st century, retired or not a 41yr old Floyd Mayweather Jr is going to be a handful for anyone whose primary sport is not boxing.
The fight would be a 3×3 event and was under the banner of the Rizin fighting federation who were promoting the event. It did not get off to the greatest starts when it was initially announced with Mayweather Jr pulling out of the fight claiming it was all a misunderstanding and he didn’t even know who Nasukawa was until the press conference. Not much longer than a week later he then announced the fight was back on….
On the night of the fight there was further confusion when Mayweather Jr failed to turn up to the venue on time, delaying the fight by a couple of hours apparently due to a flood in the hotel lobby. When the fight got under way it looked clear that Mayweather Jr was not taking this seriously – throwing lazy jabs whilst laughing, not even in a proper boxing stance, Mayweather Jr looked like he really was treating this like an exhibition. He had previously said it would be like sparring practice and he could fight three rounds in his sleep and he opened the round fighting as if he was falling asleep. Just before he could fully switch off and fight the three rounds in his sleep, Nasukawa who was looking sprightly, threw a furious combination at Mayweather Jr which seemed to wake the former world boxing champion up and jolted him into his senses. That was a bad idea for Nasukawa, it was almost as if he had awoken the giant(literally). The fight may have been listed with a weight limit of 147lbs but Nasukawa didn’t appear to be even 130lbs and that’s if we are being generous, Mayweather Jr did not look like he had trained very hard for this fight, coming in soft and most probably over 147lbs and the size difference was very noticeable. With 8oz gloves on the impact from a much bigger Mayweather Jr would be telling for Tenshin and by instigating a brawl with Mayweather Jr he was now looking at trouble.
It did not take long for Mayweather Jr to find his target, swiftly dropping Tenshin with a shot that did not appear to land flush but that is the effect of being the much bigger fighter, you don’t need to land flush to hurt someone smaller than you. Floyd wasn’t just double the age of Nasukawa, he looked appreciably bigger and with double the power. The second knockdown looked particularly hard on the young Kickboxer, a shot to the body followed by a right hand to the head did this time land clean and knocked Nasukawa down, to his credit he was able to get up but it didn’t take long for Mayweather Jr to continue his assault on the kickboxer, following him around the ring and quickly knocking him down for the third time. Yet again Tenshin was able to rise to his feet but he looked overawed and overwhelmed – his corner very rightly threw in the tunnel and ended the torture of Tenshin in the final minute of the first round….
Even before Floyd had finished his victory dance the cries of fake were already gaining voice. Tenshin was pummelled and pushed around the ring, looking like a fish out of water, the exaggerated knockdowns and stumbles made many people question whether what they saw was real or something more out of a WWE event than a fighting event.
The fact is though, that Tenshin was overmatched but unfortunately for him he did not know this until the fight began. Underestimating a retired world champion boxer was his biggest downfall, that applies not only to Tenshin but to the promotional company Rizin also. Maybe you could see it as a masterstroke, a lot more people know who Rizin are now and you can bet a lot more people know who Tensin Nasukawa is too. Perhaps it was a risk worth taking with the long term view in mind, Nasukawa has been singled out to be the face of Rizin in the future and despite his defeat, this will not go down on his record and all publicity is good publicity…so they say.
Now was this fight fixed or ‘fake’? My own opinion is that it was not. Mayweather Jr admitted after the fight that he did not train for the fight which would net him $9million. The way Mayweather Jr came out in the opening round seemed to suggest as much, he looked soft and was not looking very serious at all. It is possible he was going to fight the full three rounds as an exhibition, he was making good money for a 9minute fight and there were no judges, there would be no winner or loser with no judges present. Mayweather Jr’s brand is all about the undefeated record so he could rest easy knowing he didn’t have anything to protect in this fight and could just go out and enjoy the moment.
I believe that all changed when Nasukawa didn’t reciprocate Mayweather’s intentions and decided to put it on Mayweather Jr. Mayweather barely threw a punch in the first 45 seconds, but it was when Tenshin landed a hard counter on Floyd and then spun out of the corner that Floyd may have felt Tenshin wasn’t reading from the same script. From that point on a light switched on for Mayweather Jr and he decided to put it on Tenshin and very quickly overwhelmed the 5’4 fighter. Mayweather may have thought that Tenshin was taking the fight a lot more serious than he was and if he didn’t step it up and let his opponent fight freely that it could backfire on him. Not that he would be hurt by Tenshin, but that Tenshin could come out of this looking better than Mayweather did, every boxer knows that Mayweather took it easy in his last fight against Conor McGregor. Making over $100million, in that fight Mayweather Jr almost appeared as if he wanted to make up for robbing the fans in the mega money pay day fight against Manny Pacquiao so he fought a game he never has before(high guard, walking forward) and gave the fans 10 rounds of boxing before he decided that was enough and stopped McGregor. But still many would say McGregor landed more punches than other world champions did on Floyd Mayweather Jr. That it was a credit he was able to last 10 rounds with the greatest fighter of the 21st century when in reality the Money Man was not even pushing himself. Wary of a similar situation here with Tenshin, if Mayweather let Tenshin come out of those three rounds looking great whilst he was taking it easy then similar claims would be made so after Tenshin tried hurting Mayweather, he decided he would finish the fight to shut down any claims the young fighter was anywhere near his level as a boxer. Rizin and Tenshin were the ones who called out Mayweather and tried to dupe him under the guise of an exhibition match. The fact it was headlining a proper fighting event and they were willing to pay Mayweather Jr $9million to take on their prized star shows they may have been trying to mislead him, when Tenshin didn’t play ball inside the ring, Mayweather decided he would take the ball and end the game. I hate to say it serves them right but it does, Mayweather Jr showed that although he may be retired, his name of ‘Money’ Mayweather still rings true.
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