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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Meet Japan's 'Ninja Boy', the prodigy who aims to stun Floyd Mayweather Jr

Unbeaten kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, 20, from Chiba near Tokyo is considered something of a prodigy in Japanese fighting circles

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

Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, who aims to make history by defeating boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr, claims his left-hook is like a "bolt of lightning" that will "change the world".

The baby-faced southpaw with a blond quiff, who is only a few months out of his teens, was barely known outside his home country before the shock announcement of his New Year's Eve fight with the unbeaten Mayweather.

But the 20 year old from Chiba near Tokyo is considered something of a prodigy in Japanese fighting circles and began learning karate at the tender age of five.

Like Mayweather, he has never been beaten, boasting a 27-0 record as a professional kickboxer with 20 wins by knockout. He has four wins out of four in mixed martial arts.

Nasukawa won the world junior karate championship when he was a fifth grader and shifted to kickboxing a year later, according to his official website.

He made his professional kickboxing debut at the age of 16 and became bantamweight oriental rules world champion a year later.

Promoters Rizin said that Nasukawa - or "Ninja Boy" as they dubbed him - had "become one of the most popular fighters in Japan, and perhaps the best combat sports prospect the country has ever seen."

There are still no details as to under what rules the fight will be held - whether kicks will be allowed, for example - but Nasukawa claimed after the bout was announced he had "a punch that boxers don't have".

"I don't care what the rules are. I want to be the man who changes history. I'll do that with these fists, with one punch - just watch," Nasukawa said.

Even Mayweather acknowledged that Nasukawa was "an unbelievable talent", praising his lithe, "gym rat" physique.

"He's very special, he's fast, he's strong. I'm older now and when it comes to experience, I have it on my side. He has youth on his side and he's going to bring a lot of excitement," said the 41-year-old American.

Nasukawa now weighs 56.8 kilogrammes and is also giving four inches away in height to Mayweather, who won world titles in five different weight classes.

"Our weight class is different, but it means nothing to me," Nasukawa said.

According to his official site, Nasukawa is good with his hands in other areas than punching, saying he is a fan of knitting and sewing - as well as indulging in traditional Japanese "sento" baths.

Despite his tender age, he published a biography last year entitled Kakusei, meaning "Awakening".

However, both he and Mayweather have reportedly received some online mockery for the unusual cross-code fight.

According to US sports celebrity website TMZ Sports, US rapper 50 cent said that Nasukawa looked like an "Uber driver".

And in a foul-mouthed tirade on his Instagram account, Irish mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor, who lost to Mayweather in the American's last fight in August 2017, also asked who Nasukawa was.

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