Floyd Mayweather knocked down Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa three times en route to a first-round stoppage in their boxing exhibition at the Saitama Super Arena.
Mayweather, 41, a former five-weight world champion who retired from boxing with a perfect professional record of 50-0 last year, saw off an opponent 21 years his junior.
In a bout that was scheduled for three rounds just outside Tokyo, Nasukawa lasted only two minutes and 20 seconds before his corner threw in the towel.
Mayweather said in the build-up he expected to pocket £7.06m from the fight, which headlined an event organised by Rizin Fighting Federation, a Japanese mixed martial arts organisation.
Mayweather had a 4kg weight advantage over Nasukawa, who boasted an unbeaten record in 28 kickboxing bouts and four contests in MMA, with this fight having no bearing on either man’s official record.
Nasukawa, though, reportedly faced a multi-million dollar fine if he attempted to kick out at Mayweather.
A grinning Mayweather started supremely confidently and dropped Nasukawa for the first time with a left hook with barely a minute gone.
A body shot followed by an uppercut saw Nasukawa slump to the canvas again moments later, with the southpaw bravely getting to his feet, albeit on unsteady legs.
A one-two from Mayweather precipitated the end of the contest, and the American said in quotes published by BBC Sport: “It was all about entertainment – we had a lot of fun. They wanted this to happen in Japan, so I said ‘why not?'”
“I’m still undefeated. Tenshin is still undefeated. Tenshin is a true champion and a hell of a fighter.
“I want the fans around the world to support Tenshin, he’s a great guy and a great champion.”
The UAE has always been a melting pot of cultures, bringing people together from all parts of the world for tourism, employment opportunities and at times to escape the political and social turbulence of one’s own country.
The Ahmadi brothers were just some of the people who left their home in Kabul, Afghanistan, a year ago so that they could exercise their passion for boxing in a safe environment.
Hasibullah Ahmadi, 18, and Ahmad Siar Ahmadi, 13, are two of three brothers, who are all heavily involved with Round10 boxing club. Hasib started boxing in Kabul at the age of 12, while Ahmad started just six months ago after being inspired by his older brother, saying with a beaming smile that he simply wants to be a champion.
“I was training to be boxer in Afghanistan, but as you know there is a war going on there so I moved here about one year ago,” the teenager told Sport360°.
“The resources we have got in Afghanistan are great for amateur boxing, but here in Dubai we are being trained for professional fight.”
He added: “I have seen a massive improvement in my style and technique ever since I started training here. The quality of the facility here is incomparable and I have the opportunity to train in a multinational environment which has taught me a lot about new skills and given me more experience.”
The boys live with their family in Ajman and though they don’t find any element of the sport challenging, their biggest hardship has been enduring the long and gruelling commute from their home to their gym in Dubai.
However, Hasib lauded the community in Round10 and their fellow gym-goers for carpooling with them. “For me, boxing isn’t hard. It’s just the fact that we live in Ajman and the commute from there to the gym is really exhausting,” he said.
“We are very lucky that our friends in the gym help us out but for me that’s the only difficult part.” Even though Ahmad is still relatively new to the sport, he has already made a name for himself on the amateur front as he rides a three-fight winning streak.
On the other hand, Hasib has got 20 amateur fights under his belt already, and after making his professional debut this year, the talented teenager already has three wins to his name.
The brothers have got big things in the pipeline for the year ahead, with Ahmad focused on training so he can make his professional debut, while Hasib has already signed up for more professional fights.
“Now I have three professional fights on my record that I have won so far,” said Hasib. “In 2019, I have six or seven fights lined up and then in 2020, I will be fighting for the belt.”
Whoever thought ‘fighting like a girl’ was an insult is definitely in for a rude awakening as more and more female fighters and boxers are taking centre stage and dominating what was widely considered a man’s sport.
Anahit Aroyan, 19, nicknamed ‘Arni’ is part of the new generation of female boxers who are constantly changing the landscape of the sport and paving the way for more young girls to follow in their footsteps.
She is a three-time Armenian champion at amateur level and then went on to become the golden gloves champion in Serbia.
“In the ring I feel like a boy, but outside of it I’m a girl,” said Aroyan.
While she was holidaying in Dubai with her mother, she decided to check out Round10 boxing club in Al Quoz for a sparring session.
The owners of the club were thoroughly impressed by her skills and style, and a simple visit culminated in her getting a full-time position as a trainer.
Aroyan, too, was amazed by the facility and the numerous opportunities the UAE opened up for her.
Despite her lack of command over English, Aroyan spoke to Sport360 about her move to Dubai and how she managed to forge her path into professional boxing after winning her debut fight last month.
“Back in Armenia, there were numerous times when I was sleeping in my boxing club, as I lived really far away. Living in Dubai is a lot more convenient for me and I have met some really talented boxers who have taught me so much and given me a lot of experience,” she said.
Aroyan is currently preparing for her next fight in Mumbai, India, on January 26 and for her training, the teenager prefers sparring with men more than women, as it helps her polish her technique and always teaches her something new.
She considers herself fortunate that her family was always supportive of her aspirations of becoming a boxer and even after she moved here, she found lots of love and support from her coach and colleagues at Round10.
However, she still had to deal with some mildly sexist remarks occasionally from some people who didn’t encourage women’s participation in the sport.
“You know when I was starting out, I heard a lot of people say that boxing is a man’s sport and why is a girl doing, but I never cared about what they were saying. I love boxing and it is my life. In fact, I am proud that I am a female boxer,” added Aroyan.
“It is hard being a boxer as a girl, as you always end up with bruises all over, but I love it. People often ask me if I am doing this for money, but I always tell them that I am doing this for myself and to become the world champion.”
When asked to elaborate further on her challenges, the Armenian simply gave a nonchalant shrug and said: “Whatever obstacles I had were difficult but not impossible to overcome. I don’t really think I had any obstacles or challenges, it was hard but my love for the sport kept me going.”