X

Cruickshank: Mayweather's Opponent Nasukawa 'The Michael Jordan' of Kickboxing

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2018

Floyd Mayweather gestures while standing on the scales during the weigh-in on May 1, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada one day before his 'Fight of the Century' against Manny Pacquiao on May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN        (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
FREDERIC J. BROWN/Getty Images

MMA fighter Daron Cruickshank said Floyd Mayweather would be making a smart decision if he decided to opt out of a showdown with Tenshin Nasukawa, whom he considers "the Michael Jordan of kickboxing."

Mayweather and Nasukawa are set for a meeting on December 31, although there have been some doubts about whether or not the bout will go ahead.

Cruickshank, who is scheduled to be on the same card, told TMZ he rates Nasukawa highly, and that while Mayweather would be dominant in the sweet science, the unbeaten boxer would struggle to cope with him in a kickboxing bout.

"He's like the Michael Jordan, over there, of kickboxing," he said of the 20-year-old. "...If they did a kickboxing match, I think Tenshin would win. If they did a regular kickboxing match, Tenshin would win. But, in a boxing match, I don't think he would stand a chance."

SAITAMA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 31:  Tenshin Nasukawa of Japan enters the ring in the kick boxing bout during the RIZIN Fighting World Grand-Prix 2017 final Round at Saitama Super Arena on December 31, 2017 in Saitama, Japan.  (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Mayweather recently told TMZ that despite hinting the fight might not go ahead, he is "gonna make it happen." When pressed on what kind of combat they would engage in, he said it'd be a "little boxing exhibition" with "no kicking"; the 41-year-old also said it'd be a nine-minute contest.

Per MMA journalist Luke Thomas, Mayweather has previously hinted the fight wouldn't be a behind-closed-doors showpiece too:

Luke Thomas @lthomasnews

We just played the audio of the presser from Mayweather where he talks about giving back to the Japanese public and putting on a show for them. The idea of a bout with Nasukawa being a private exhibition is nonsense.

Per the Associated Press (h/t ABC News), the head of the Rizin Fighting Federation, Nobuyuki Sakakibara, also said the clash would be three rounds and the contest would not be registered on the professional record of either competitor.

The Japanese has won all four of his MMA showdowns so far and has a record of 28 wins from 28 fights in kickboxing. In his previous bout, he beat Taiki Naito inside two minutes, culminating in this emphatic finish:

Kyle Johnson @Maldobabo

Tenshin Nasukawa blew Taiki Naito out of the water in under two minutes. This kid is special. #RISE129 https://t.co/GFEENmyzJl

Mayweather has been a lot less active, with his previous bout against professional boxing debutant and MMA star Conor McGregor in August 2017. The man known as Money was unsurprisingly dominant and won via a stoppage in the 10th round.

Cruickshank, who has previously fought in the UFC, is a veteran of the sport at 33, with 21 wins, 10 losses and one no-contest on his professional MMA record. At Rizin 13 in September he beat Diego Brandao in the second round with a flying-knee knockout.   

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.