May­weather to bat­tle Ja­pa­nese fighter in cage

Shanghai Daily - - SPORTS - BOX­ING (Reuters)

FLOYD May­weather’s over-stated ar­rival to his un­veil­ing as the new fig­ure­head for a Ja­pa­nese mixed mar­tial arts pro­mo­tion proved that no-mat­ter what the event or the lo­ca­tion, the Amer­i­can box­ing leg­end will al­ways be box of­fice.

The un­de­feated 41-year-old an­nounced he was com­ing out of re­tire­ment again and will top the bill at the Rizin Fight­ing Fed­er­a­tion’s next card on De­cem­ber 31, in a bout against a Ja­pa­nese kick­boxer with the rules yet to be de­ter­mined.

Prior to yes­ter­day’s news con­fer­ence, May­weather gave a se­lect num­ber of me­dia in­ter­views over the week­end, but the iden­tity of Rizin’s mar­quee re­cruit for the Saitama event out­side Tokyo had been kept un­der wraps.

So, with the logo for May­weather’s ‘The Money Team’ brand os­ten­ta­tiously em­bla­zoned across the room, there was a pal­pa­ble sense of in­trigue ahead of the Amer­i­can’s late ar­rival.

When May­weather fi­nally ap­peared in front of the me­dia in Tokyo, the Amer­i­can, whose box­ing record is an un­blem­ished 50-0, was far more sub­dued than his noisy in­tro­duc­tion, sub­sti­tut­ing his usual bravado with a se­ri­ous busi­ness-like tone.

“We want to con­tinue and I want to con­tinue to build my re­la­tion­ship with Money Team Tokyo, I want to con­tinue to come over here and bring other fight­ers over here,” May­weather ex­plained dur­ing a some­what stilted news con­fer­ence.

“My com­pany has been mak­ing some huge fights hap­pen in the US but we look for­ward to tak­ing the May­weather pro­mo­tions ban­ner and the TMT (The Money Team) ban­ner world­wide and if it means work­ing with a great guy like this (Rizin pres­i­dent Nobuyuki Sakak­ibara) then there is no prob­lem.”

It seems for May­weather, who won box­ing world ti­tles at five dif­fer­ent weight di­vi­sions, this fight is about ex­pand­ing his brand and busi­ness in­ter­ests over­seas. “I wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. I al­ways wanted to dis­play my skills out­side the US and be in a spe­cial fight,” added May­weather, who has fought ev­ery one of his pro­fes­sional bouts in the United States.

May­weather’s lat­est move comes as a ma­jor shock af­ter he an­nounced his sec­ond re­tire­ment fol­low­ing his de­feat of Ir­ish MMA star Conor McGre­gor in a crossover box­ing match last year.

How­ever, the most stun­ning as­pect of May­weather’s an­nounce­ment is his de­ci­sion to sign with an MMA brand, hav­ing never com­peted in the oc­tagon be­fore.

While box­ing re­strict bouts to us­ing just punches, MMA also in­cor­po­rates kicks, knees and el­bow strikes, as well as wrestling, joint locks and chokes.

May­weather and his team said they were still in talks with Rizin over the rules and for­mat of the fight, which should be “sit­u­ated” in the com­ing weeks.

The iden­tity of May­weather’s op­po­nent, Ja­pa­nese kick­boxer Ten­shin Na­sukawa — a fighter half the Amer­i­can’s age — mud­dies the wa­ters yet fur­ther.

Na­sukawa com­petes in both MMA and kick­box­ing, and has won all four of his cage fights.

While May­weather show­ered praise on his op­po­nent and even dis­par­aged him­self by say­ing “my body don’t look the same as it used to look,” a bullish Na­sukawa ex­uded con­fi­dence.

“I would like to prove with my own fist what oth­ers couldn’t do in the past,” said the 20-year-old, who added he ac­cepted the of­fer to fight May­weather with­out hes­i­ta­tion. “My op­po­nent looks taller than I thought, I think be­cause of the aura around him, but I think I could hit him.”

Un­beaten boxer Floyd May­weather poses with his op­po­nent Ten­shin Na­sukawa at a news con­fer­ence, where the Amer­i­can an­nounced he was join­ing Ja­pa­nese MMA pro­mo­tional com­pany Rizin Fight­ing Fed­er­a­tion, in Tokyo yes­ter­day. — Reuters

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