Kickboxing superstar Tenshin Nasukawa put on a show in his pro boxing debut today in Tokyo, dominating Yuki Yonaha over six rounds.
The 24-year-old Tenshin won on scores of 59-55, 60-53, and 60-53. Bad Left Hook unofficially scored it 60-53.
Boxing fans not familiar with kickboxing may know Tenshin’s name from the exhibition he had a few years ago with Floyd Mayweather, where he was knocked out pretty handily against the much bigger, actual professional boxer, and legendary professional boxer at that.
Nasukawa (1-0, 0 KO) fought at 122 lbs for this bout, and did score a questionable knockdown in round two, on a punch that really sort of hit Yonaha (12-5-1, 8 KO) in the back of the head, and caught him off-balance. The referee ruled Yonaha’s glove had touched down.
Tenshin did show some good hand speed, some nice timing with punches, but he definitely still had a lot of the footwork and movement of a kickboxer, didn’t move his head much, and so on. But he’s 24 and if he really dedicates to boxing, he has some natural ability, and he wouldn’t be the first to transition from kickboxing to boxing at a high level, if he can do that.
You also have to wonder if, with Tenshin fighting at 122 lbs and being a huge star in Japan, Teiken and Top Rank are already considering the idea of him facing Naoya Inoue in a potentially massive event by the end of 2024. Even if everyone who knows boxing went in assuming Inoue would dominate, it could still be an enormous fight in Japan, potentially Tokyo Dome-level stuff.
But that’s for the future. For now, Tenshin has made a successful pro boxing debut. There’s clearly talent, he’s obviously got great charisma, and while there’s a ton of work to do to legitimately reach the upper levels of the sweet science, he’s here now.