Boxing
Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer 7d

Floyd Mayweather says he agreed to small exhibition fight, not official bout

Boxing, MMA

If you're a Floyd Mayweather fan, don't go booking your trip to Japan for the New Year's Eve return to the ring that he announced Monday at a news conference in Tokyo.

Mayweather on Wednesday pulled back from his announcement, posting on Instagram that he had never agreed to a formal bout with Japanese kickboxing phenom Tenshin Nasukawa and that he and his team were "completely derailed" by the magnitude of the event announced.

"Now that I am back on U.S. soil after a long and disappointing trip to Tokyo, I now have the time to address you, my fans and the media in regard to the upcoming event on December 31st that was recently announced," Mayweather wrote. "First and foremost, I want it to be clear that I, Floyd Mayweather, never agreed to an official bout with Tenshin Nasukawa. In fact (with all due respect) I have never heard of him until this recent trip to Japan."

Mayweather, the 20-year-old Nasukawa, Mayweather business associate Brent Johnson -- who helped put the deal together -- and executives from the Rizin Fighting Federation appeared at Monday's news conference and announced the fight for Dec. 31 at the 37,000-seat Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, about a half-hour drive outside of Tokyo. Rizin is a Japanese promotional company founded in 2015 that puts on MMA and kickboxing events.

Several key details were not announced, including the specific rules of the bout, the number of rounds, the weight limit, how the fight broadcast would be distributed and what type of gloves they would wear. Nor did Mayweather, who usually gets into detail about how much money he would earn, discuss his pay for the fight. Earlier in the day, Mayweather posted a photo of himself on social media wearing Rizin MMA gloves.

But in his social media post on Wednesday, Mayweather backtracked, even though he spent several minutes at the news conference lauding his opponent and answering questions about the event and his decision to come out of retirement for the fight.

"Ultimately, I was asked to participate in a 9 minute exhibition of 3 rounds with an opponent selected by the Rizen Fighting Federation," Mayweather wrote. "What I was originally informed of (it) by Brent Johnson of One Entertainment was that this was to be an exhibition put on for a small group of wealthy spectators for a very large fee. This exhibition was previously arranged as a 'Special Bout' purely for entertainment purposes with no intentions of being represented as an official fight card nor televised worldwide."

Mayweather went on to say that he was surprised by the announcement of the fight as anything other than that at the news conference.

"Once I arrived to the press conference, my team and I were completely derailed by the new direction this event was going and we should have put a stop to it immediately," he said. "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.

"For the sake of the several fans and attendees that flew in from all parts of the world to attend this past press conference, I was hesitant to create a huge disturbance by combating what was being said and for that I am truly sorry. I am a retired boxer that earns an unprecedented amount of money, globally, for appearances, speaking engagements and occasional small exhibitions."

Since his retirement, there has been no record of Mayweather participating in boxing or any other combat sports exhibitions. Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs), 41, of Las Vegas, came out of a two-year retirement in August 2017 and knocked out UFC superstar Conor McGregor in the 10th round of a massively hyped boxing match, which became the second-highest-grossing event in combat sports history behind only Mayweather's 2015 victory over Manny Pacquiao.

In September, Mayweather said he planned to come out of retirement again and announced he would face Pacquiao in a rematch in December. While Mayweather still has said he plans to fight Pacquiao again, that fight likely would not happen until at least the spring; Pacquiao plans to defend his secondary welterweight title against Adrien Broner in January.

In the meantime, Mayweather announced Monday that he would fight the much smaller Nasukawa, who is 27-0 with 21 knockouts in kickboxing and 4-0 with two knockouts in MMA, fighting mainly as a featherweight and junior featherweight.

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