Floyd Mayweather appears to have backed out of a planned New Year’s Eve fight with Japanese kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa less than three days after he appeared at a Tokyo press conference announcing the bout, claiming he was “blindsided” by the promoter regarding the nature and magnitude of the event.
The five-division boxing champion said in an Instagram post on Wednesday that he had agreed to a three-round exhibition “purely for entertainment purposes with no intentions of being represented as an official fight card” and was “completely derailed by the new direction this event was going”.
On Monday, the Rizin Fighting Federation, a Japanese mixed martial arts company, announced Mayweather would fight Nasukawa, the undefeated 20-year-old kickboxing prodigy, during an hour-long press conference in Japan attended by the American boxer and One Entertainment CEO Brent Johnson, the marketing executive who helped broker the deal and a relatively new addition to Mayweather’s tight-knit inner circle.
The fight between Mayweather and Nasukawa was to headline the Rizin 14 card that had already been scheduled for 31 December at the Saitama Super Arena outside Tokyo, but key stipulations including the contracted weight, number of rounds, type of gloves and – crucially – the rule set under which the bout would take place were left unannounced.
When pressed over the details during Monday’s press conference, Mayweather appeared unconcerned, saying: “We’ll talk about that, we’ll get that situated within the next couple weeks. As far as the weight class, we’re not really worried about that. When it’s all said and done, it’s all about me going out there and displaying my skills against another skilful fighter.”
Added Johnson: “We put this together very quickly but with a great deal of professionalism and we look forward to keeping that going for the rest of our tenure together, however many years that may be.”
But in Wednesday’s statement, Mayweather implied he was ambushed, admitting that “we should have put a stop to it immediately” but he was “hesitant to create a huge disturbance”.
“I want to sincerely apologize to my fans for the very misleading information that was announced during this press conference and I can assure you that I too was completely blindsided by the arrangements that were being made without my consent nor approval,” Mayweather said.
Several phone calls and messages to Mayweather, Johnson and Leonard Ellerbe, the fighter’s longtime manager, were not immediately returned on Wednesday.