By Keith Idec
It’s highly unlikely Showtime would distribute the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Tenshin Nasukawa fight as a pay-per-view event in the United States.
The timing of their fight is prohibitive in that respect, as it is expected to begin near midnight December 31 in Saitama, Japan. That means Mayweather-Nasukawa would start late on a Monday morning on the East Coast of the United States and early in the morning on the West Coast.
The fight isn’t expected to be particularly competitive, either, if it is strictly a boxing match. Confining their contest to a boxing exhibition would eliminate Nasukawa’s obvious advantages, despite that the kickboxing sensation is 21 years younger than the boxing legend he has agreed to face.
It involves Mayweather, however, which will attract curious viewers, especially if it doesn’t cost $75-$100 to watch it. That could lead to Showtime televising Mayweather-Nasukawa live on that premium cable network December 31 from Saitama Super Arena.
“We are having discussions with the event promoters and we’re waiting for further details, like everybody else,” Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports and event programming, told BoxingScene.com. “We have to wait for those details to be finalized before we go any further or get into any negotiations.”
Unlike every previous Mayweather fight, American television won’t be one of the primary sources of revenue for this unusual spectacle. Fuji TV, the Japanese network with which promoter RIZIN Fighting Federation is partnered, will pay a substantial license fee to air Mayweather-Nasukawa live on that network.
Regardless of how it airs in the United States, it appears that this will mark the first time in 13 years that one of Mayweather’s matches hasn’t headline a major pay-per-view event. The last time that happened was November 2005, when Mayweather’s sixth-round stoppage of Sharmba Mitchell aired live on HBO from The Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon.
Thereafter, Mayweather became the biggest pay-per-view star in the history of that expensive platform. All told, he has been involved in pay-per-view events that have produced approximately 23.8 million buys and earned roughly $1.67 billion in pay-per-view revenue.
His partnership with Showtime in February 2013 changed the course of his career. Showtime has distributed seven Mayweather pay-per-view fights since striking that deal.
Two of those victories – a points defeat of Manny Pacquiao in May 2015 and a 10th-round stoppage of Conor McGregor in August 2017 – helped Mayweather make more than $500 million combined. Mayweather-Pacquiao was a joint television venture between Showtime and HBO.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.