Mayweather's easy money

Retired American boxer Floyd Mayweather sending his Japanese kickboxing opponent Tenshin Nasukawa sprawling to the canvas during their exhibition bout in Tokyo on Monday.
Retired American boxer Floyd Mayweather sending his Japanese kickboxing opponent Tenshin Nasukawa sprawling to the canvas during their exhibition bout in Tokyo on Monday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

American boxer destroys Japanese opponent in just 139 seconds to take home US$9 million

TOKYO • Befitting his "Money" nickname, Floyd Mayweather spent his New Year's Eve earning a quick pay cheque.

How quick? 139 seconds to be exact, in a exhibition match against Tenshin Nasukawa in Tokyo's Saitama Super Arena on Monday.

The Japanese kickboxing sensation was knocked down three times in the first round before his corner threw in the towel.

Mayweather, 41, said on social media before the bout that he would make US$9 million (S$12.3 million) in Japan. In an interview after the fight, he claimed that the event was "all about entertainment".

"We had fun," Mayweather said of the event, according to ESPN.

"The fans in Japan, they wanted this to happen, so I said, 'Why not?'.

"But I'm still retired. I don't look forward to coming back to boxing. I did it just to entertain fans in Japan.

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"I'm still 50-0, and Nasukawa is still undefeated and a hell of a fighter."

Nasukawa, just 20 years old but in possession of a 28-0 record in kickboxing and a 4-0 mark in mixed martial arts, was left in tears by the end of the bout.

There were no official judges for the fight, which was staged under boxing-only rules that reportedly included a stipulation that Nasukawa would incur a US$5 million penalty if he were to kick Mayweather.

The fight began after a lengthy wait for Mayweather to emerge at the arena, which led many to wonder if he would show up at all, given the uncertainty over the event.

News of it had emerged in November, with the fight initially presented as if it were an official contest for which Mayweather would come out of retirement, much as he did in August 2017 to take on Conor McGregor.

However, Mayweather quickly said he "never agreed to an official bout" and was instead under the impression that he was going to participate in an "exhibition" match in front of a "small group of wealthy spectators".

He eventually confirmed that the fight would take place, telling TMZ Sports: "I'm moving around with the guy for nine minutes and, of course, it's gonna be the highest paid exhibition ever."

Once he entered the ring, Mayweather appeared to be taking the bout lightly, smiling at Nasukawa and flicking a few half-hearted punches. But he soon went on the attack and landed several clean, hard blows that sent Nasukawa sprawling to the canvas.

After starting his professional career at 16, Nasukawa has quickly become popular in Japan while building his undefeated record. But he has been fighting at 121 pounds (55kg), whereas Mayweather has usually fought at about 150 pounds. That size difference proved decisive.

Mayweather further highlighted what a mismatch the fight was when he was asked how he prepared for the bout.

"Did I have a training camp for this fight? No. I went to the gym a few times," he said.

The one-sided result sparked mixed reactions.

Filipino boxing great Manny Pacquiao appeared to take a dig at Mayweather in a tweet: "Here is an early New Year's resolution. To continue to only fight experienced opponents who are my size or bigger."

Pundit Kevin Iole added: "To think he deserves to be praised for pummelling a fighter who had never boxed before, and is a super bantamweight, is ridiculous."

But former light heavyweight world champion Andre Ward defended Mayweather, saying: "Legendary fighters have been fighting exhibitions from the beginning.

"Many went on exhibition tours to stay in shape and to give fans a chance to see them in between fights. Floyd's just doing it a different way."

WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2019, with the headline 'Mayweather's easy money'. Print Edition | Subscribe