Tenshin Nasukawa has a pulverising leg kick and is so fast commentators say ‘he’s in the matrix’
Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa has been propelled into the global spotlight after agreeing to fight Floyd Mayweather at the Saitama Super Arena, outside of Tokyo, on New Year’s Eve.
At present, there is vast amount of unknown details; Mayweather said the format, rules and weight category of the fight are still to be decided. Mayweather has only boxed throughout his career while Nasukawa has fought only as a kickboxer and in mixed martial arts.
The financial details are also unknown but Mayweather’s involvement almost certainly guarantees hundreds of millions being at stake. But if anyone thinks Mayweather is just as likely to coast to a 51st career victory, think again.
Japanese fighter Tenshin Nasukawa takes on Floyd Mayweather in Tokyo on New Year’s Eve
Nasukawa has an unbeaten record after 27 kickboxing fights – winning 21 by knock-out
The 20-year-old Nasukawa has a formidable fighting record and already a reputation as one of the fiercest kickboxers in the world.
‘I don’t even want to imagine what kind of fighter he will turn out to be in five years,’ said Yuaku Nakamura, who was knocked out in the second round of their kickboxing bout in May after being caught with a crushing left hook.
But how has Nasukawa made it to fighting Mayweather? Sportsmail profiles the Japanese star.
WHEN DID TENSHIN NASUKAWA START FIGHTING?
Nasukawa was enrolled in a karate class at the age of five by his father, who wanted him to learn the discipline taught by martial arts.
He flourished, winning national titles up until the age of 12, when he became enchanted by the K-1 Kickboxing and Pride FC multi-combat sport divisions.
Nasukawa started fighting at the age of six when his father enrolled him in a karate class
Nasukawa shifted gears, focusing predominantly on kickboxing but has developed an array of skills that lend itself to mixed martial arts. Like Mayweather, he boasts a 100 per cent career record with 27 wins from 27 kickboxing fights (21 knockouts) and four wins so far in his MMA career.
His record makes the undecided format of the Mayweather fight all the more fascinating; one would imagine that Mayweather will hold sway over the terms but Nasukawa has no obvious weakness for the American to exploit.
Yet due to Mayweather signing with RIZIN, an MMA promoter, the signs suggests there will be a new level of combat involved for him to contend with.
As well as an unbeaten kickboxing record, Nasukawa has won four MMA fights
WHAT ARE HIS TOOLS?
A southpaw, Nasukawa’s left side is what Mayweather will need to stifle, whatever the form their fight takes. His left hand is his most dangerous weapon and he has a powerful left leg kick to compliment it.
He has also won plaudits for his speed and previously has thrived against more experienced opponents of Mayweather’s ilk, who have tried to slow fights down.
He has a good eye for picking a spot when allowed, as demonstrated by his vicious 2016 knock-out of Muay Thai fighter Wanchalong – when Nasukawa was 18.
Nasukawa sent his opponent bouncing off the canvas with a spinning leg-kick where he came off the ground before catching him in the face.
‘He sees absolutely everything,’ the commentator said. ‘This boy is in the matrix, believe it. Nobody saw that coming.’
Nasukawa defeated Wanchalong in 2016 with a leg-kick that saw him come off the ground
HOW TALL IS HE?
Nasukawa is four inches shorter than Mayweather at 5’4. In Monday’s press conference announcing the fight, Nasukawa remarked on Mayweather’s physical stature.
‘My opponent looks taller than he actually is and I think that comes from the aura that he has, but I think I can hit him,’ he said.
Mayweather will have a four-inch height advantage over Nasukawa when they fight
WHAT ARE HIS CAREER AMBITIONS?
At only 20, Nasukawa can afford to aim wherever he wants but only back in May, he outlined his desire to take part in a fight that would intrigue the world.
‘All that I can think about right now is to become the winner of a big fight that not only all Japanese fans want to see, but all international fans want to see,’ he said to Bleacher Report. ‘The winner of big dream fights that all people want to see.’
At his press conference with Mayweather, Nasukawa was bullish on his chances of victory.
‘Nobody has defeated my opponent in the past and I’d like to be the man who makes history. My punch can change history,’ he said.
Nasukawa has surprisingly admitted before that he is sometimes ‘frightened easily’
LIFE AWAY FROM FIGHTING
When he’s away from the gym, Nasukawa relaxes with a spot of fishing. He has recently shared pictures of catfish and sea bass that he has caught.
Interestingly, in an interview with MMA.com in 2017, when asked what the one thing is that nobody would guess about him, he said: ‘I am frightened easily.’
Whatever the rules will be, Mayweather will have to prey on that when they meet on New Year’s Eve.