Meet Ja­pan’s ‘Ninja Boy’, one who aims to stun May­weather

20-year-old has never been beaten, boast­ing a 27-0 record as a pro­fes­sional kick­boxer

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

Ja­pa­nese kick­boxer Ten­shin Na­sukawa, who aims to make his­tory by de­feat­ing boxing su­per­star Floyd May­weather Jr, claims his left-hook is like a “bolt of light­ning” that will “change the world”.

The baby-faced south­paw with a blond quiff, who is only a few months out of his teens, was barely known out­side his home coun­try be­fore the shock an­nounce­ment of his New Year’s Eve fight with the un­beaten May­weather.

But the 20-year-old from Chiba near Tokyo is con­sid­ered some­thing of a prodigy in Ja­pa­nese fight­ing cir­cles and be­gan learn­ing karate at the ten­der age of five.

Like May­weather, he has never been beaten, boast­ing a 27-0 record as a pro­fes­sional kick­boxer with 20 wins by knock­out. He has four wins out of four in mixed mar­tial arts.

Na­sukawa won the world ju­nior karate cham­pi­onship when he was a fifth grader and shifted to kick­box­ing a year later, ac­cord­ing to his official web­site.

He made his pro­fes­sional kick­box­ing de­but at the age of 16 and be­came ban­tamweight ori­en­tal rules world cham­pion a year later.

Pro­mot­ers RIZIN said that Na­sukawa — or “Ninja Boy” as they dubbed him — had “be­come one of the most pop­u­lar fight­ers in Ja­pan, and per­haps the best com­bat sports prospect the coun­try has ever seen.”

There are still no de­tails as to un­der what rules the fight will be held — whether kicks will be al­lowed, for ex­am­ple — but Na­sukawa claimed af­ter the bout was an­nounced he had “a punch that box­ers don’t have”.

“I don’t care what the rules are. I want to be the man who changes his­tory. I’ll do that with th­ese fists, with one punch — just watch,” said Na­sukawa.

‘GYM RAT’

Even May­weather ac­knowl­edged that Na­sukawa was “an un­be­liev­able talent”, prais­ing his lithe, “gym rat” physique.

“He’s very spe­cial, he’s fast, he’s strong. I’m older now and when it comes to ex­pe­ri­ence, I have it on my side. He has youth on his side and he’s go­ing to bring a lot of ex­cite­ment,” said the 41-year-old Amer­i­can.

Na­sukawa now weighs 56.8 kilo­grammes and is also giv­ing four inches away in height to May­weather, who won world ti­tles in five dif­fer­ent weight classes.

“Our weight class is dif­fer­ent, but it means noth­ing to me,” said Na­sukawa.

Ac­cord­ing to his official site, Na­sukawa is good with his hands in other ar­eas than punch­ing, say­ing he is a fan of knit­ting and sewing — as well as in­dulging in tra­di­tional Ja­pa­nese “sento” baths.

De­spite his ten­der age, he pub­lished a biography last year en­ti­tled “Kaku­sei”, mean­ing “Awak­en­ing”.

How­ever, both he and May­weather have re­port­edly re­ceived some on­line mock­ery for the un­usual cross-code fight.

Ac­cord­ing to US sports celebrity web­site TMZ Sports, US rap­per 50 cent said that Na­sukawa looked like an “Uber driver”.

And in a foul-mouthed tirade on his In­sta­gram ac­count, Ir­ish mixed mar­tial arts fighter Conor McGre­gor, who lost to May­weather in the Amer­i­can’s last fight in Au­gust 2017, said: “Who’s this lit­tle prick next to you.”

(AFP)

Ja­pa­nese kick­boxer Ten­shin Na­sukawa (right) poses dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Mon­day in Tokyo to an­nounce his fight with US boxer Floyd May­weather Jr.

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