Floyd Mayweather Jr. Fighting a Japanese kickboxing prodigy makes absolutely no sense

Floyd Mayweather Jr. Fighting a Japanese kickboxing prodigy makes absolutely no sense
Screenshot: RIZIN (YouTube)

After flirting with fights of all kinds against Khabib Nurmagomedov, Manny Pacquiao (again) and Conor McGregor (again), Floyd Mayweather Jr., the world-class asshole, retired for the third or fourth time and booked his next fight. which will take place on New Year's Eve in Tokyo. Mayweather fights against the undefeated Japanese kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa, who has less than half his age. The fight is sponsored and staged by the Rizin Federation, led by the nefarious Japanese promoter Nobuyuki Sakakibara. Crucially, no one has announced what kind of battle the fight will be. This is so much stranger than any other possible fight against Mayweather.

Let's start with Rizin, a three-year-old organization born after the deaths of the legendary Japanese PRIDE PRIDE in 2007 and the middle Japanese DREAM in 2012. Rizin has some stars on his list, such as Mirko Cro Cop, Fedor Emelianenko (occasionally), and Kyoji Horiguchi, but they've cut out a significantly smaller portion of the MMA landscape than PRIDE.

That's to be expected, as PRIDE was the only game in town at that time. Rizin carries the strange promotional flair and underworld bonds that shaped PRIDE, especially thanks to Sakakibara. The promoter founded PRIDE together with mobbed-up Hiromichi Momose and Naoto Morishita, who died under mysterious circumstances in 2003. Her organization was instrumental in the development of the large Pro-MMA. Some of the sport's first stars were used by PRIDE, though everything collapsed in 2006, after a spew with Fedor for re-promotion resulted in PRIDE's deep ties to the Yakuza and the subsequent cancellation of the TV deal. The end came quickly. At least we always have the Nick Diaz Gogoplata submission.

Reports from the glorious days and end times of PRIDE paint a picture of a combat action that is inextricably linked to organized crime. Many former fighters have since admitted that tons of battles have been fixed, which makes sense as the origins of professional MMA are related to the wrestling world. The spectacle was always the point. Steroids have not been tested specifically.

The UFC bought PRIDE in 2007, initially boasting that it would usher in a new golden age of MMA on two continents before being shut down shortly after it was sold, and the former owners were sued for refusing to carry out basic background checks. Dana White called it "the worst business ever made in the history of the business". A due diligence report on Sakakibara concluded that he was "not a person of appropriate character." He refused to speak with UFC investigators, and the report stated, "All his finances are questionable." Sakakibara tried to run a football team, although his club allegedly could not be included in the J-League because of his alleged mob ties. All this led to the founding of ricin.

This may be the best MMA promotion for someone like Floyd Mayweather. Rizin is no stranger to having a title fight between Cro Cop and the 400-pound Estonian sumo wrestler Baruto Kaido. They will clearly bow down the rules they need to have a good show, and someone like Mayweather easily has the power to set the ruleset he wants for the fight. Given the diligence with which Mayweather has recently selected opponents whom he believes can beat her, there is no way to fight Nasukawa in a full MMA or even kickboxing match, at least not above the level , That said, none of Mayweather's, let's say, loving relationships with gambling and the long-established habit of losing a ton of money. This is the first time he has fought outside of Las Vegas for 13 years. The fact that he did not boast about how much money he earns is strange. Occam's Razor says this is a mock match for which he was prepared something,

Given that something as dramatic as handing over the full possession of ricin to Mayweather would not generate nearly enough money to make it worthwhile, one can only wonder what that is something is. Is it a wrestling match where Mayweather can pick up a few cheap millions? Is it a legitimate game where Mayweather can make a lot of money when he's at one end or the other of a dive? Who knows!

All this is all the more mysterious as Nasukawa, with a 4-0 record at MMA and a 27-0 record as a professional kickboxer, is one of the hottest prospects ever. He defeated Horiguchi in a kickboxing fight in September, and although he's only 20, he's already scored some famous knockouts. He has flattened the champion Muay Thai fighter Wanchalong Senchaigym within a round with a huge setback in high school.

Take a look at the power of former IBF World Champion Amnat Ruenroeng.

Given the power gradient that's at play here, there's basically no way anyone here agrees to lose. Both fighters have invested too much in their undefeated gimmicks. There is also no possibility that Mayweather will agree to this fight if it is a comprehensive MMA contest. Nasukawa would throw the shit out of him immediately. In other words, chances are that this will be a straightforward boxing match. "As for the weight class and the rules, we will talk about it," Mayweather said yesterday at his press conference. I would like to see Mayweather degrade in a legitimate MMA fight, but there is not much to say here that the Nasukawa fight is either legitimate or MMA.

So the most logical explanation for what's going on here is a straightforward boxing match sponsored by promoters who are unable to afford enough to pay Floyd Mayweather Jr. for them. Two people who have no reason to lose and can not afford will fight New Year's Eve. As far as you can tell, this is not nearly enough to justify it. What exactly is going on here?

Know What We Need to Know Contact the author at patrick@deadspin.com or via SecureDrop for extra security.

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