Floyd Mayweather vs Tenshin Nasukawa: American wins farcical Tokyo fight over distraught kickboxer

Floyd Mayweather sealed a first-round victory by technical knockout

Jack Watson
Monday 31 December 2018 15:46
Floyd Mayweather knocks down Tenshin Nasukawa
Floyd Mayweather knocks down Tenshin Nasukawa

Floyd Mayweather ended an incredible year of boxing with a first-round victory against Japanese kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa in a farcical exhibition match in Tokyo.

The 20-year-old boxing rookie stood little chance against a man considered one of the greatest in history, and the difference in presence in the ring was enough to tell how ludicrous this event was well before the bell sounded for the first round.

The build-up: confused. The fight: farcical, and the whole thing was just another brash promotion for Mayweather.

After the fight, UFC Hall of Fame member Frank Tigg waxed lyrical about Mayweather’s performance on commentary as the American boxer laughed with his entourage on stage about the easiest millions they have earned in his long career. Elsewhere Nasukawa’s team were covering their man to hide his sobbing face from the television cameras as he made his way back towards his dressing room, seemingly distraught and embarassed after hitting the canvas for third time.

Floyd Mayweather prepares to take on Tenshin Nasukawa at the Saitama Super Arena

The pantomime started when Mayweather arrived fashionably late by several hours, causing a couple of intermissions and delays to the Rizin MMA undercard at the Saitama Super Arena.

His ringwalk was accompanied by a rapper encouraging chants for Mayweather’s ‘TMT’ brand as the boxer sauntered towards the ring and laughed his way through the American national anthem. But the chuckles were not replaced by a more serious facade when the bell sounded for the first round, as might happen in an actual sporting event.

Mayweather was laughing in a somewhat patronising manor as Nasukawa attempted to make a fast start, just as he had promised. Any early enthusiasm from the Japanese kickboxer was soon wiped away by the former-five weight world champion as he floored him with ease a minute into the contest.

Having survived the count by two seconds, Nasukawa walked into another one of Mayweather’s blows and was down a second time. Like clockwork, he got back to his feet before being sent to the deck just as quick for the third time in the first of the three scheduled rounds.

Mayweather stands over Nasukawa after knocking him down

Having seen enough in the first two-and-a-half minutes to know their man stood absolutely no chance, the towel came in from Nasukawa’s corner and the exhibition was over. Mayweather, still smiling and barely sweating, had earned himself another $9m to add to the collection for around 150 seconds of work.

“That power still blows my mind away! It was a joy to watch him. You appreciate what he’s done for the sport of boxing,” said a rather excitable Trigg on the way that Mayweather has made himself accessible to other fighters, having beaten UFC star Conor McGregor in August 2017 in his previous fight.

Mayweather, on the other hand, called things differently to how the ringside pundits described the “unbelievable performance”.

"I want to say thank you, it was about entertainment we had fun,” Mayweather said in the ring, confirming what a complete waste of time this had been.

Mayweather attempts to hand Nasukawa the trophy

He thanked Japan for their “amazing” support and threw in some promotional slogans for his company, seeking to exploit this moment for everything he had prepared it to be.

“It's about entertainment. Tenshin is still undefeated I'm undefeated, I did this just to entertain the fans,” he repeated. “I said 'why not?' I'm, still retired, still 50-0.” An admission that this event was in fact all a complete waste of everybody’s time and has little meaning or longevity.

Amir Khan called it right early on, saying this “joke fight” was “hurting boxing”. It is easy to forget amid the circus of what happened in Tokyo, that this event was an actual boxing match. Boxing’s great moments are the product of competitive fights that grip viewers and captivate a passionate audience. Tyson Fury getting up in the final round against Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua coming back to beat Wladimir Klitschko. Not a veteran champion hammering a 20-year-old kickboxer.

So where next for the globetrotting superstar? A fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov has been touted, and given the purse Mayweather received for fighting McGregor this might seem like a probable move. Khabib’s manager claims to have texts from Mayweather “begging for the fight” to happen, but how long before the ‘Money’ novelty begins to wear thin?

Mayweather, however, seems happy to continue fighting anybody that can earn him a big enough pay-packet, and at 41 is showing no signs of wanting to stop anytime soon.

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