Floyd Mayweather-Tenshin Nasukawa a laughable event

Keith Bedford for ESPN

All along, Floyd Mayweather insisted his three-round welterweight boxing exhibition fight with Japanese kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa was supposed to be "all about entertainment."

Mayweather preached that line throughout the unusual buildup to the bout that was first on with no rules announced, then off when Mayweather suddenly backed out and then back on again with the rules being outlined that it would be a regulation boxing match -- but would not count on anyone's record and would not use any judges or have scores rendered if the fight went the distance.

Well, if you call watching Mayweather, now 41 and not even close to being in the kind of supreme condition he was always in for his real boxing matches, annihilate a 20-year-old non-boxer in a little over two minutes entertainment, congratulations, you were probably entertained.

The rest of us? Meh.

In reality the whole thing was downright embarrassing and at times looked almost staged. That said, nobody should blame Mayweather for getting paid for essentially doing nothing. He has had much more grueling workouts in the gym, yet he wrote on social media that he would be paid $9 million for the scheduled nine-minute fight that wound up lasting only a fraction of that.

Mayweather showed up about two hours later than scheduled to the Saitama Prefecture Super Arena in Saitama, Japan -- about a half-hour drive outside of Tokyo -- on Monday to headline the Rizin Fighting Federation's New Year's Eve mixed combat sports card.

There had been 13 previous official bouts before Mayweather left everyone waiting through an interminable intermission before making his arrival and then laying waste to Nasukawa, a Rizin kickboxing champion who was left in tears in the ring after the fight as Mayweather raised his hand and paraded him around the ring.

"It was all about entertainment. We had fun," Mayweather said in the ring, apparently believing that Tenshin, a natural junior featherweight, had fun getting knocked down three times with an assortment of clean punches from a much bigger man. "Tokyo, Japan, you guys have been amazing. Thank you."

Mayweather, who was barely touched, knocked down Nasukawa with a left hook, a right uppercut and another right hand to the top of the head. After the third knockdown, Nasukawa's corner threw in the towel, and referee Kenny Bayless, who has worked several of Mayweather's biggest real fights, waved it off.

The fight was televised in Japan and available around the world as a pay-per-view on a combat sports app -- except in North America, where Mayweather apparently did not want the fight seen.

For anyone who actually paid for the event specifically to see Mayweather assault Nasukawa, you got what you deserved. But, again, nobody should blame Mayweather for taking the money.

He played this to the hilt. He came to the ring with a baseball hat emblazoned with "U$A" and wore trunks that had his own image on one leg and hundred-dollar bills on the other.

As Mayweather pummeled poor Nasukawa, the broadcasters sounded like the fight was something for the ages, gushing over how awesome Mayweather looked beating up a tiny opponent. They were more over the top than a typical WWE telecast. The way they sounded, Mayweather had knocked out Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard in the same night.

Just before Nasukawa walked back to the dressing room with assistance from two men holding him up by each arm -- and with his face covered by his robe -- Mayweather at least took the high road when discussing the laughable event, his first in-ring action since he 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 that was the second-highest grossing event in combat sports history behind only Mayweather's 2015 victory over Manny Pacquiao.

"I want to say thank you to Tenshin. It's all about entertainment," Mayweather said, once again using his favorite phrase and forgetting that Nasukawa probably did not find much entertainment on the night. "This don't go on my record. This don't go on Tenshin's record. Tenshin is still undefeated. I'm still undefeated. This was just entertainment for the people."

In September, Mayweather said he would fight Pacquiao in a rematch this month, but he instead took the exceptionally easy money for the exhibition with Nasukawa, while Pacquiao lined up a defense of his secondary welterweight world title against Adrien Broner for Jan. 19 on a Showtime PPV at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The plan, Mayweather and Pacquiao had both said, would be to still fight a rematch sometime in 2019, a Pacquiao victory being assumed.

But Mayweather changed his tune after knocking out Nasukawa, who is 27-0 with 21 knockouts in kickboxing and 4-0 with two knockouts in MMA.

"I'm still retired. I don't look forward to coming back to boxing," Mayweather said. "But, you know, I did this just to entertain the fans in Japan. They wanted this to happen over here in Japan, so I said why not. So once again, I'm still retired. I'm still 50-0. Tenshin is still undefeated. He's still a true champion. Tenshin is a hell of a fighter and he's a great champion. ... I want the fans all around the world to support Tenshin. He's a great guy, he's a great fighter. He's a great champion."

Perhaps Mayweather, who laid it on a bit thick given that Tenshin showed zero aptitude for boxing, will in fact remain retired from real boxing.

After all, if he can make millions for not training seriously, showing up late to the arena and going through the motions of fighting for a couple of minutes, take the money -- if anyone would actually pay for another one of these farces.