- Floyd Mayweather abruptly called off his Rizin fight against Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in an Instagram post two days after it was announced.
- Several experts and analysts had voiced their suspicions about the legitimacy of the fight before Mayweather called it off.
- It’s not the first time Mayweather announced, then canceled, a fight on short notice.
Floyd Mayweather’s potential MMA debut was canceled almost as quickly as it was announced.
Mayweather made headlines on Monday morning when news broke that he would fight undefeated Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa on New Year’s Eve, in an event thrown by Japanese MMA brand Rizin.
While the terms of the fight — what weight it would be fought at, the rules, even what gloves the two would wear — had yet to be determined, Mayweather indicated that the fight was on, announcing it in a now-deleted Instagram post.
Just two days later, the fight was off. With another post on Instagram, Mayweather claimed that he was “completely blindsided” by the arrangements of the fight, saying that he believed it would be billed as a small exhibition rather than an official fight card.
While Mayweather says the deal was legitimate and just fell apart in negotiations, some experts had openly wondered whether or not it would happen even before he called it off.
When news of the fight first broke, Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports noted the drastic difference in size and style between Mayweather and Nasukawa and the lack of details pertaining to the deal. According to Iole, it was difficult to know “if it’s a real fight or something scripted like pro wrestling, or a variant in between.”
Brendan Schaub, who hosts the podcast “Below the Belt” for Showtime, was even more open about his suspicions surrounding the fight.
“I thought it was a joke,” Schaub said. “[Nasukawa]’s a phenomenal southpaw who could kick Floyd Mayweather’s face off. … I think it could be staged, I’m not saying it is, and not saying Rizin has staged fights before… but I’m very skeptical of this. Floyd Mayweather is way bigger — Tenshin is giving up a lot of weight, a lot of height, and the rules are not in place yet.”
“There’s no way Floyd signs this huge deal with Rizin to get starched by a young up-and-comer,” Schaub continued. “Just look at the writing on the wall, man. Something’s going on here — this smells fishy.”
Robin Black, an MMA expert and analyst, had a similar thought, suggesting it was possible that Rizin, a relatively new and small brand, had brought Mayweather in as a promotional ploy.
Mayweather Promotions declined to comment when reached by Business Insider.
Mayweather has announced and canceled fights on short notice before. On the night of the Canelo-GGG rematch, Mayweather teased that he would have a rematch Manny Pacquiao “this year,” a move that appeared to be little more than a blatant attempt at stealing the thunder of his former opponent. A week later, Mayweather said that the fight would have to wait, because, ironically, he would “be back in Tokyo for a huge boxing event.”
Now, with the fight canceled, Mayweather’s MMA debut has been postponed, and Rizin and its biggest star have a new level of brand recognition amongst more casual fight fans.
And as Mayweather wrote in the final line of his Instagram post announcing that the fight was off, he is still “a retired boxer that earns an unprecedented amount of money, globally, for appearances, speaking engagements, and occasional small exhibitions.”