Tokyo, Japan : Floyd Mayweather announced on Sunday night at a Tokyo press conference that he will fight Japanese kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa in Japanese fighting league RIZIN on new year eve in Saitama, north of Tokyo.
Kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, 20, has won all of his 27 kickboxing bouts and all four of his MMA fights, and will face Floyd at Saitama Super Arena, although it is as yet unclear as to which rules of combat their fight will adhere.
Mayweather is 50-0 in his boxing career but has never fought professionally under MMA rules. Although he did have a lucrative win over MMA fighter Conor McGregor last year.
Japanese promoter the RIZIN Fighting Federation on Monday said rules and the weight class for the bout have not been set.
“We still have some work to do,” said Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the RIZIN chairman.
The 20-year-old Nasukawa, speaking at a news conference alongside Mayweather, called it “probably the biggest even of my life so far.”
He also vowed to end Mayweather’s long string of victories.
“Nobody has defeated my opponent in the past, and I would like to be the man who makes history,” Nasukawa said, speaking through an interpreter. “My punch can change history. And I will show that to you. So please stay tuned.”
Mayweather sat calmly and then praised his young opponent.
“I think he’s young, very strong and very fast and he undefeated so it’s obvious he’s doing something right.
Mayweather explained that the chance to fight outside his native US, where he has staged each of his 50 professional fights, will be a chance to showcase his fighting skills to the world.
“I wanted to do something different. I wanted to display my skills outside the US and be in a special fight,” Mayweather said. “I spoke with my team and with RIZIN and we put it together.”
“I have fought in the US for all 50 of my fights. As a professional I haven’t had a chance to go outside the US to display my skills and to display my talent for the world.
“I look forward to giving you guys entertainment come December 31, but my relationship with RIZIN, it doesn’t stop just here. I look forward to taking this worldwide,” he added.
On Monday, Mayweather posted ominous snaps of himself posing in Rizin MMA gloves to his social media, hinting at a possible crossover fight. If an MMA bout does materialize, a mega-fight with Khabib would move a huge step closer to reality.
Strong rumours had surfaced of a potential matchup between Mayweather and Russian UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, in the immediate aftermath of the latter’s fourth-round submission of Conor McGregor at UFC 229.
Khabib called out the boxer in an Instagram video with Mayweather manager Leonard Ellerbe, saying “in the jungle, there can be only one king”, to which the boxer confirmed the two would definitely fight.
The only question that remained was whether the two would meet in a boxing ring or UFC octagon. After UFC president Dana White stated any potential fight would take place only under the auspices of the promotion, it seemed a boxing match – mooted to take place at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium – was firmly off the cards.