By Keith Idec
Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s boxing exhibition in Japan won’t be made available through conventional television outlets to consumers in the United States the morning of New Year’s Eve.
Multiple sources have informed BoxingScene.com that the three-round Mayweather-Tenshin Nasukawa bout won’t be broadcast live in the U.S. on December 31 from Saitama, Japan. It’ll air live in Japan on Fuji TV as part of promoter RIZIN Fighting Federation’s partnership with that prominent network.
Mayweather will be paid handsomely by RIZIN for facing its 20-year-old star kickboxer/mixed martial artist, but this will be the first of his fights in more than 20 years that won’t receive television exposure in his home country. Each of the 41-year-old Mayweather’s bouts have been broadcast either by HBO or Showtime, or the pay-per-view divisions of those networks, since 1998.
Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports and event programming, told BoxingScene.com last month that he would explore the possibility of broadcasting Mayweather-Nasukawa live on the premium cable network that has been Mayweather’s broadcasting partner since February 2013.
Airing Mayweather’s return to the ring apparently would’ve been cost prohibitive for any network, particularly since this exhibition will take place mid-morning on a Monday on the East Coast of the United States and early in the morning on the West Coast. Fights televised live on HBO, Showtime or pay-per-view exclusively air on Saturday nights in the U.S.
Mayweather-Nasukawa will take place late the night of New Year’s Eve in Saitama, Japan, which is 14 hours ahead of the East Coast of the United States.
Their fight first was announced during a press conference November 5 in Saitama. Mayweather participated in that press conference, but he withdrew from the event upon returning to the United States two days later because he said he was misled by organizers of the event.
Mayweather changed his mind again and came out of retirement for the third time.
The Grand Rapids, Michigan, native is heavily favored to defeat Nasukawa because, even at his advanced age, Mayweather remains an elite-level boxer. He’ll also own a significant size advantage over the Japanese sensation, who’s 27-0 (20 KOs) as a featherweight kickboxer and 4-0 in MMA matches (two KOs, one submission).
Las Vegas’ Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) hasn’t fought since scoring a 10th-round technical knockout against UFC star Conor McGregor 15 months ago at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
On Thursday, Mayweather held an open workout for the media at his gym in Las Vegas to promote the Nasukawa fight. Nasukawa also participated in it, as did executives involved in the promotion.
Boxing’s biggest star is expected to earn a fee that’ll reach high into eight figures for facing Nasukawa.
Nevertheless, this exhibition will mark Mayweather’s first non-pay-per-view event in the United States since he stopped Sharmba Mitchell in November 2005. His sixth-round, TKO defeat of Mitchell aired live on HBO from The Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon.
Mayweather became a pay-per-view star thanks in part to his split-decision win over Oscar De La Hoya in May 2007. Since making his debut on that platform against Arturo Gatti in June 2005, Mayweather has been involved in 16 pay-per-view events that have produced approximately 23.8 million buys and exceeded roughly $1.67 billion in pay-per-view revenue.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.