BY TIM DAHLBERG
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Floyd Mayweather says he and Japanese kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa will meet after all — but only in a nine-minute New Year’s Eve exhibition.
Mayweather said the match in Tokyo would be for entertainment purposes only, with no judges, no official record — and no kicking.
“I’m in the entertainment business. That’s what I go out there to do,” Mayweather said Thursday at his Las Vegas gym. “I love to do this. I’m working out to put on a show for three rounds.”
Nasukawa joined Mayweather at his gym to announce the exhibition, which will be boxing only and take place at Saitama Super Arena in suburban Tokyo on Dec. 31.
It was the second announcement for the event, which was promoted as an actual fight when announced last month, though the rules were unclear. Mayweather appeared at a press conference in Tokyo, where he talked about the challenge of taking on a young kickboxing champion.
A few days later, Mayweather issued a statement after returning to the U.S. that he was “blindsided” by Japanese officials and never intended to have an actual fight with Nasukawa.
“First and foremost, I want it to be clear that I, Floyd Mayweather, never agreed to an official bout with Tenshin Nasukawa,” Mayweather said, going on to describe himself as a retired boxer who earned money making appearances and putting on exhibitions for what he said were large sums of money.
Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the head of Rizin Fighting Federation, which is putting on the three-round exhibition, told reporters in Japan last month that negotiations were ongoing to stage the event despite the 41-year-old Mayweather’s apparent reluctance. He said at the time that spectators would see more than mere “casual sparring” and that the 20-year-old Nasukawa would have the opportunity to knock Mayweather out despite the fight being billed as an exhibition.
“We don’t want people to think this is some half-hearted playing around,” Sakakibara said.
And while Mayweather talked about providing some entertainment in the three-round event, Nasukawa sounded a bit more serious about it.
“I’m going to use my weapons against him,” he said through an interpreter.
Mayweather earlier also announced plans to fight Manny Pacquiao in December. That fight never went past the talking stage, and Mayweather claimed once again last month that he was retired and has no intention of having an actual fight again.
Mayweather remained unbeaten in 50 fights in his last bout when he stopped UFC champion Conor McGregor in a boxing match in August 2017.
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