We make an attempt to answer some of the burning questions that surround Mayweather vs. Tenshin, perhaps the most bizarre combat sports spectacle of the year.
Sometimes a fight comes around that is so completely and utterly bizarre that it leaves you without words.
Most recently, we had that to a certain extent with Floyd’s August 2017 showdown with MMA’s Conor McGregor but even with that circus, we were able to immediately establish a clear motive and gains that could be made for both parties.
With the announcement that Mayweather would once again fight inside the boxing ring, the world’s initial reaction was one of complete and utter shock – not only because the fight would take place in Japan, but also because Japanese kickboxing/MMA superstar Tenshin Nasukawa would be his opponent.
The pair took part in a press conference earlier today, one that told us very little about the fight itself.
When and where will this contest take place?
The Saitama Super Arena in Japan will host this bout on New Year’s Eve, 2018.
The arena is a 37,000-capacity venue, known for hosting concerts and combat sports events.
So what exactly is RIZIN FF?
RIZIN Fighting Federation is a Japanese MMA promotion that was created in 2015 by Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the man who once served as president of PRIDE.
RIZIN events are a genuinely fantastic spectacle. Everything from the commentary to the extravagant fighter walk-outs give their shows an old-school feel and their fights themselves are usually just about as wacky as their aesthetic.
The likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Kazushi Sakuraba, Wanderlei Silva, Diego Brandao, Heath Herring, Ian McCall and Kyoji Horiguchi have all fought – or currently do fight – under their banner.
I think it’s fair to say, though, that their number one talent and star-in-the-making is the man who is scheduled to face off against Floyd Mayweather in December, Tenshin Nasukawa.
So who exactly is Tenshin?
Tenshin Nasukawa is a 20-year-old phenom who fights out of Tokyo, Japan. For the last few years, he has been darting between mixed martial arts and kickboxing and is an exceptionally talented and technical striker.
He holds perfect MMA (4-0) and kickboxing (28-0) records and is widely considered to be the finest prospect in Japanese combat sports today.
Earlier this year he engaged in a thrilling exhibition super-fight with the former UFC flyweight title challenger Kyoji Horiguchi over three-rounds and I believe that the blueprint for his fight with Mayweather can be found from that pairing.
Why would Floyd Mayweather make this call?
It does seem quite odd.
Tenshin is a huge star in Japan, though. He and Kyoji Horiguchi managed to fight in front of a packed Saitama Super Arena (reportedly 27,000 people) despite the fact that there was a typhoon inbound – something that caused massive disruption to public transport in the area.
For Floyd, I can only imagine that he sees this as a quick and safe way to make money in a fight that, let’s be real, he isn’t going to lose.
What are the rules?
This fight will be a very short exhibition bout with three three minute rounds and will take place at 67kg (147 pounds), feature “straight boxing rules” and eight-ounce boxing gloves.
There will be no judges and the fight will not go on official MMA or boxing records.
Does Tenshin pose any danger to Floyd’s perfect record?
I would imagine he will be in very little danger in this bout. If the fight is scheduled as an exhibition matchup, I don’t think we’ll see either man trying particularly hard to get the win, to be honest.
On top of that, Mayweather will have a significant height, reach and weight advantage over Nasukawa.
Floyd weighed-in at 149.5lbs for his matchup with Conor McGregor – a weight he likely walks around at. Tenshin fights predominantly at 126lbs and stands four-inches shorter than Mayweather at 5’4″.
They’ll likely agree to a catchweight for what will probably be a nine-minute affair.
If you’re looking for a winnable farce, why fight in Asia when you can fight in the US against a superstar like Conor McGregor or Khabib Nurmagomedov?
It’s too early to establish exactly why he has made the call but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s pretty simple.
RIZIN FF are a growing MMA organisation who would no doubt have jumped at the opportunity to have their name mentioned in the same sentence as the biggest star in boxing.
By placing their own biggest draw into a fight with Mayweather, they can build his name along with their own in a fight that will more-than-likely amount to little more than a light-showcase that’ll be over before we know it.
Floyd could well have his eye on the Asian market for future endeavours. What better way to test the waters and better establish your brand than taking on one of the continent’s biggest stars.
For Mayweather, a quick night at the office – which is likely what it would be – is worth travelling across the world for and who knows how many eyes will be drawn to this contest.
It’s a win for all parties involved.
Floyd will make his money. RIZIN and Tenshin will no doubt make their’s as well but perhaps even more importantly, it will see their stock within the global combat sports scene grow exponentially.
Fighting Khabib or McGregor would see Mayweather be forced to embark on a huge world-tour before eventually fighting a much bigger man than Tenshin in a bout that would be scheduled for twelve rounds.
I think Floyd is looking for a quick buck with this one. The December date will ensure a quick promotional drive and by the time 2019 comes around, he’ll have a brand new paycheque to cash.
Mayweather has figured it out. You can either love him or hate him but to deny that this man is the greatest businessman in the history of combat sports is just silly.
He has realised that he can fight big names in the boxing ring who aren’t necessarily boxers – leaving him with a huge technical advantage and a similar financial gain.
Why should I be excited?
Sometimes a freak-show can be fun. I think we’ve learned a lot from last August’s Mayweather vs. McGregor bout and while this contest will be an even bigger farce, I’d recommend just having a bit of fun with it.
And at the very least, the undercard to this fight on the night will likely be absolutely insane!
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena