On New Year’s Eve in 2018, Floyd Mayweather was at a different kind of party.
The 50-0 boxing icon celebrated the occasion by dancing across the canvas on which he’d just deposited Tenshin Nasukawa three times before the youngster’s corner jumped in to call a halt to their ridiculous contest.
‘Money’ danced in the ring after winning by first-round knockout
Mayweather had flown to Tokyo after being offered $9million by Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN for a three-round exhibition against the 20-year-old kickboxer.
Their idea was to have the unbeaten prospect massively develop his global profile by sharing the ring with one of the most recognisable faces on the planet.
It didn’t quite go as planned.
Mayweather did not need to take the fight seriously
The announcement came completely out of the blue on a Monday morning in November, with the rest of the boxing world stunned as they woke up to the news.
Details slowly trickled out as it emerged that Mayweather, whose previous bout against Conor McGregor was fought at 154lbs, would be facing a featherweight in Nasukawa who’d last competed at 128lbs.
However, just two days later there was a problem.
After flying home from the announcement press conference in Japan, Mayweather put out an Instagram post declaring the contest was cancelled.
Mayweather dominated Tenshin in three short minutes
He claimed to have been completely blindsided by organisers who agreed a low-profile exhibition, but then announced a massive event in an arena filled with thousands of people.
RIZIN responded with a statement of their own, saying they were trying to salvage the fight with further talks and, in a surprise twist, they managed to do so.
With their star back on board, the event was officially re-confirmed with boxing rules fully announced and a bizarre trailer released.
American veteran Kenny Bayless, who’d refereed multiple Mayweather fights, was even brought in to officiate.
Floyd Mayweather vs Tenshin Nasukawa trailer
The American, who kept himself in decent condition, decided no special training camp was needed for this bout.
He did not even take the event seriously enough to arrive in Japan in advance and acclimatise to the local time zone.
Thankfully though, he had a solution for this – he made the event happen on Mayweather time.
The day of the fight came and there was concern during the undercard as reports began to emerge stating that Mayweather had not yet turned up.
The crowd at the Saitama Super Arena waited hours
As the preceding fights wore on and the main event drew closer, this worry became more and more serious until eventually, two hours later, Mayweather arrived.
The 41-year-old then hosted an impromptu Instagram Live stream of himself getting his hands wrapped in his dressing room, while the sell-out crowd of 37,000 all waited in their seats.
“I’m just an old man, I ain’t in shape, body ain’t in shape, I’m just an old man trying to make it,” Mayweather told his followers.
He appeared to treat the entire event as a joke, just because he could.
Floyd Mayweather before the Tenshin Nasukawa fight
Eventually Floyd was ready to go and Nasukawa entered the Saitama Super Arena to a hero’s welcome.
The Japanese crowd vociferously cheered on the man they optimistically hoped was about to become a new national icon.
Mayweather was rapped out by his son Koraun, with the pair brashly dancing all the way to the ring.
Both fighters were bizarrely given a bouquet of flowers during an extended sequence of introductions before, finally, mercifully, the first bell rang.
Mayweather laughed at his opponent in the ring
Floyd began by toying with his opponent, throwing jokey punches that weren’t even jabs.
The 41-year-old took up a mock stance, waved his left arm and made comical noises taunting Nasukawa.
Tenshin was clearly outsized, but remained serious and began to throw punches in the direction of Mayweather.
The American parried these efforts, smiled and began laughing at his opponent before swiftly switching gears.
Nasukawa was floored as soon as Mayweather connected
Within the next two minutes, Floyd floored Nasukawa three times and ended the contest.
The first knockdown came via a left hook to the temple which seemingly scrambled Nasukawa’s senses and sent him sprawling to the floor.
He made it back to his feet and fought on, trying in vain to have an impact on Mayweather.
The 20-year-old was soon put down again by virtue of a ferocious right uppercut.
At ringside, those who had invested $9million into Floyd’s purse with the aim of using him to build Nasukawa’s profile began to realise they’d made quite a big mistake.
Nasukawa ended up on the canvas three times in quick succession
To his credit, the bewildered youngster arose once more, but was understandably no match for Floyd’s speed, timing and accuracy.
Nasukawa hit the canvas for a third time – from another left hook – and was subsequently pulled out by his corner.
You could hear a pin drop in the arena as 37,000 stunned fans, who’d waited several additional hours on New Year’s Eve for this bout, witnessed their national hope demolished in three brutal minutes.
Nasukawa was seen crying on camera and Mayweather began his victory dance.
The humiliation was complete.
Nasukawa cried in the ring
“It was all about entertainment, we had fun,” Mayweather stated in his post-fight interview.
“This don’t go on my record, this don’t go on Tenshin’s record, Tenshin is still undefeated, I’m still undefeated, I’m still retired.
“I did this just to entertain the fans in Japan. They wanted this to happen over here in Japan, so I said, ‘Why not?’”
Mayweather picked up a $9million payday for three minutes of work
Although the Mayweather fight did not pan out as intended for his reputation, Nasukawa’s public profile did rise significantly regardless.
He has since returned to kickboxing and won all six of his contests, rebuilding his career in 2019.
As for Mayweather, he continues to tease more potential exhibitions and has made noises about a rematch with Conor McGregor, but his legitimate fighting career is complete and rightly so.
He has nothing left to prove.