Retired boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced last week he was traveling to Tokyo soon to negotiate with a Japanese promotional company for an event to happen later his year.
According to several social media users who follow the RIZIN Fighting Federation closely, Mayweather’s next RIZIN exhibition bout could come against MMA star Mikuru Asakura, a “wild, street-fighting” MMA fighter who over recent years has grown into one of that company’s biggest draws.
Here’s the latest rumor going around the web about what might be coming next for Mayweather in Japan.
— 朝倉未来 Mikuru Asakura (@MikuruAsakura) February 28, 2020
Background on Floyd Mayweather’s Relationship With RIZIN
Mayweather’s last (and only) RIZIN exhibition bout came in December 2018 against RIZIN kickboxing phenom Tenshin Nasukawa. Mayweather won the bout via first-round stoppage, though it was blasted by ESPN as a “laughable event” and accused of perhaps even being scripted the way pro wrestling is.
Per ESPN, “In reality, the whole thing was downright embarrassing and at times looked almost staged.”
But Mayweather made $9 million for the outing.
It might also be worth noting that Mayweather’s win over Nasukawa didn’t go on his official boxing record. Make of that what you will.
It’s absolutely worth noting however that Mayweather’s win in the bout came against a 125-pound kickboxer under straight boxing rules.
At this stage of his life, Mayweather is a full-fledged 147-pound fighter. So Mayweather-Tenshin was like if Conor McGregor wanted to fight Deiveson Figueiredo or Joseph Benavidez but also wanted to stipulate that his opponent had to stand and strike the whole time.
If Mayweather-Tenshin was a legit fight, it was a dumb and dangerous one.
Still, Mayweather’s appearance at RIZIN 14 gave a huge amount of media attention to the Japanese organization created in 2015 by the former Pride Fighting Championship’s president Nobuyuki Sakakibara.
Another bout could do the same thing.
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Who Is Mikuru Asakura?
Per Bloody Elbow, Mikuru Asakura is one of “two wild, street-fighting brothers, who just happen to be the best up-and-coming fighters Japan has to offer”.
Those words are from December 2019. Since they were written, Mikuru has added two more wins to his ledger whereas younger brother Kai Asakura suffered a shocking loss to Manel Kape at RIZIN 20.
Still, the two fighters, Mikuru, 27, and Kai, 26, have an amazing backstory and excellent records overall.
According to that same Bloody Elbow article: “There are no two more important fighters – both to Rizin and to MMA on the whole – than this pair of fire-fisted brothers.”
— 朝倉未来 Mikuru Asakura (@MikuruAsakura) February 22, 2020
Mikuru and Kai are homegrown Japanese stars that could be on their way to doing big things in their country. The brothers grew up getting into lots of streetfights and reportedly didn’t even want to learn boxing at the behest of their mother because they didn’t like that were so many rules to the sweet science.
Per Bloody Elbow, “…Mikuru doubled down on his devil-may-care mentality. He became even more reckless and frankly, dangerous. He would schedule times to go out at night and jump unsuspecting people, often recruiting his goon squad to film the encounters. He became resigned to the idea that eventually, he would join a gang. And, at some indeterminate point – ‘when’ didn’t matter – he would die. He would eventually write a last will and testament in his cell phone, tacitly preparing himself for what he thought was an inevitable early death.”
Both brothers eventually ended up with a “delinquent-centric Japanese promotion” called The Outsider, which is a promotional endeavor that was specifically created to allow fighters from non-traditional backgrounds a chance to rise from the fringes of society into full-fledged fighting stars.
Mikuru and Kai rose through those ranks beginning in 2015 and have been with RIZIN since 2018. Kai does his work at 130. Mikuru competes in the 145-pound division. He’s 14-1 as a professional fighter and has won nine straight contests.
What About Floyd Mayweather’s UFC Plans?
Mayweather appeared to be on his way to working with the UFC a few months back, but nothing appears to have happened on that front. Both Mayweather and UFC president Dana White did confirm something was in the works back then, but the announcement never came.
Perhaps Mayweather’s dealings with the UFC were complicated by the global pandemic and the sudden unavailability of his two most likely crossover megafight opponents, Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Regardless it now looks like Mayweather’s next crossover fight will be happening under the RIZIN banner rather than the UFC’s. If that happens, some people believe Mikuru is the most likely opponent.
Is Floyd Mayweather vs. Mikuru Asakura Happening?
There’s been no announcement about Mayweather’s RIZIN plans for 2020 beyond what the fighter posted last week. In short, Mayweather said that he was traveling to Japan to meet with the company for something that would happen later this year.
Beyond that, all the rumors and chatter online is purely speculation at this point. However, it’s at least reasonable to suggest the information making the rounds on social media is worth noting for a few reasons.
First, Mayweather’s already competed in a RIZIN event against 125-pound kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa. He’s not likely to be headed into a rematch against the same fighter after his dominant first-round stoppage, and one might also believe the promoters would want to pick a larger fighter this time around.
Next, there aren’t theoretically that many fighters on RIZIN’s roster that would both make sense from RIZIN’s perspective as well as Mayweather’s. RIZIN would want to position one of its top stars as it did with Tenshin two years ago, and Mayweather would want to be sure he’s getting paid top dollar.
Finally, Mikuru has at least twice recently expressed interest in facing Mayweather, and he did it long before Mayweather announced he was interested in another RIZIN bout.
Mikuru suggested on May 18 he’d be willing to fight Mayweather inside a boxing ring. He said the same thing the month prior.
Sakakibara will speak to K-1, RISE, Bellator, ONE Championship, and even the UFC in hopes to setup a truly massive Dynamite!! type show this summer.
Tenshin/Takeru is the desired main event.
Mikuru Asakura is shooting for the stars and wants Floyd Mayweather or Conor McGregor.
— Mike Skytte (@MikeLovesTacosX) April 14, 2020
Three months before that? The same thing.
Asked about a possible Rizin FWGP, Mikuru Asakura says that he prefers to do megafights like Tenshin/Floyd. Open to any world-famous fighters regardless of the rules. Confident he can win any fight, but also points out that weight is important. https://t.co/u5Qx4LQagM
— bsappu (@bsappu1) February 13, 2020
To add fuel to the Mayweather vs. Mikuru fire, right around the time Mikuru called Mayweather out in February, Mayweather bragged to TMZ Sports about a $10 million offer to fight again in Japan.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Mikuru liked Mayweather’s latest post on Instagram after the American said he was on his way to Tokyo.
Mikuru Asakura liked Floyd's instagram post 😀
Mikuru called out Mayweather and McGregor earlier this year pic.twitter.com/K2Y1kdkiRV
— bsappu (@bsappu1) July 9, 2020
None of those things mean very much by themselves, but together they might form what could be the makings of Mayweather’s next exhibition bout for RIZIN in Japan.
Say what you will about Mayweather’s first RIZIN appearance, the plain truth of the matter is that it brought a huge spotlight to the company. Mayweather got paid a hefty sum, millions of people learned who Tenshin was and maybe even about RIZIN, and everyone involved with the event seemed genuinely happy that it happened.
Mayweather vs. Mikuru could do the same thing.
Moreover, Mayweather being matched against a fighter closer to the same size as him this time around, Mikuru or some other athlete, would probably offer a little better show for the masses.
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