Floyd Mayweather’s long wish to participate in a mixed martial arts (MMA) fight may finally be realized before the year ends. This is following the recent announcement that the 41-year old will come out of his retirement to face Japanese’s kickboxing and MMA sensation Tenshin Nasukawa. The announcement was made on Sunday night 4th November, at a press conference where the RIZIN Fighting Federation- a Japanese MMA company- Chairman Nobuyuki Sakakibara presented the two fighters. From the announcement, it was revealed that Mayweather would take on Nasukawa who just turned 20 years old on the occasion of RIZIN 14, the federation’s end-year event that is slated for New Year’s Eve, on 31st December 2018.
The announcement of the Mayweather vs Nasukawa fight came as a shock to many since Mayweather has for long teased about getting back in the ring either with his former fierce rival Manny Pacquiao which has long since become a fairy tale. Off late, however, he has been insistent on having an MMA fight first teasing a rematch with Conor McGregor and more recently Khabib Nurmagomedov. Sunday’s announcement offered the most concrete commitment and the possibility of such a fight happening only it will not be in the premier MMA stable that is Ultimate Fighting Championship UFC, but the Japanese promotion RIZIN. The match will also take place in Tokyo, Japan, the first time that Floyd Mayweather has competed in the Asian region. It actually will be the first time he is on foreign soil while also the first since his 2005 fight against Sharmba Mitchell that he will be fighting outside Los Angeles.
The venue for the fight has been picked as the Saitama Super Arena, and it matches the previous venues that hosted past high profile and high-selling events Floyd Mayweather has featured in including the bouts against Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao and his last fight with former UFC champion Conor McGregor. The Saitama Super Arena is located in Saitama City in Japan and serves as a multi-purpose indoor arena. Its maximum spectator capacity of 37,000 makes it among the top five largest indoor arenas in the world. It has previously hosted high profile events in basketball, ice hockey, WWE fights, and UFC fights. While it is also scheduled to host the 2020 Basketball competitions during the summer Olympics, this is likely going to be the most significant event it will host.
The choice for Japan as the host nation and Tokyo as the host city makes for an exciting choice. While the Asian nation has a long tradition is combat sports and has helped developed different styles along with featuring different promotions and stables, it has not had the worldwide attention that super fights like these bring. Most of the time, the local promotions have been bought by global brands like UFC while its best talents whether in wrestling, kickboxing or MMA have been tapped to join the international brands away from home whether it is WWE, UFC and such. Indeed this is what happened to Sakakibara’s first company Pride Fighting Championships. This means worldwide recognition and the money that comes from continuous global media attention.