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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Floyd Mayweather Jr to make fight comeback on New Year's Eve

Unbeaten American, 41, to take on kickboxer and mixed martial artist Tenshin Nasukawa in Saitama on December 31

Undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr poses with his opponent Tenshin Nasukawa during a news conference in Tokyo. Reuters
Undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr poses with his opponent Tenshin Nasukawa during a news conference in Tokyo. Reuters

Floyd Mayweather Jr has confirmed he will come out of retirement and face a Japanese kickboxer half his age this New Year's Eve in Saitama.

Mayweather, 41, who has never tasted defeat in a 50-fight career in professional boxing, will take on Tenshin Nasukawa at the Rizin Fighting Federation's next card on December 31, although what rules the fight take place under will be decided in the coming weeks.

Mayweather is widely regarded as the greatest boxer of his generation but seemingly retired after taking his perfect professional record to a half-century of wins by defeating UFC star Conor McGregor in August last year.

Talk of a comeback has been steadily building in recent months with UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov posting on his official Facebook page last month that a showdown with Mayweather was slated for next May in Grozny, Russia.

But Mayweather's decision to partner up with the Rizin Fighting Federation - an MMA promotion company - still comes as a shock.

Prior to Monday's news conference, Mayweather gave a select number of media interviews over the weekend, but the identity of Rizin's marquee recruit for the Saitama event had been kept under wraps.

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"I wanted to do something different. It doesn't matter where the fight is but it's in a special place," said Mayweather, a five-weight world boxing champion.

"I always wanted to display my skills outside the US and be in a special fight. This presented itself, I spoke with my team, I got with Rizin and we put it together.

"It's always been a goal of mine to go outside the US and go to another arena and display my talent as a professional. I did it as an amateur but it was different as a professional.

"I fought in the US for all 50 fights but as an amateur I was able to travel and fight in Russia, Cuba and so many different countries.

"I chose Japan because it's such a great place and they've got great people and the fighting atmosphere is unbelievable.

"I want to give the people what they want to see - blood, sweat and tears."

Nasukawa is 21 years Mayweather's junior but has won all 27 of his kickboxing contests as well as his first four bouts in MMA.

While Mayweather showered praise on his opponent, a bullish Nasukawa exuded confidence.

"I would like to prove with my own fist what others couldn't do in the past," said the 20 year old, who added he accepted the offer to fight Mayweather without hesitation.

"My opponent looks taller than I thought, I think because of the aura around him, but I think I could hit him."