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Kickboxing’s biggest superfight has a date: Tenshin vs. Takeru set for June

One of K-1s biggest stars is finally set to meet one of kickboxing’s best prodigy talents.

Tenshin Nasukawa enters the ring for his bout against Rui Ebata at Rizin 20.
Tenshin Nasukawa enters the ring for his bout against Rui Ebata at Rizin 20.
Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

It feels as though the moment Tenshin Nasukawa captured his first Rise kickboxing title, back in 2015, the stage was set for him to take on K-1 champion Takeru Segawa. Both men were fighting at 55kg, both making their names as stars of the Japanese kickboxing circuit, and both competing in a sport that has consistently provided top tier sporting rivalries between legendary talents.

Somehow, however, that fight just never seemed to materialize. Takeru has kept his career almost entirely limited to the K-1 stage, while Tenshin bridged his success in Rise over to a consistent spot with Japan’s premiere MMA platform, Rizin. For a sport where multiple meetings between the best fighters in the world – over careers that often stretch into triple-digit ring appearances – are a commonplace occurrence, it almost felt like this was a fight that was never going to happen.

Thankfully, though, that no longer appears to be the case. Rizin CEO, and former mastermind behind PRIDE FC, Nobuyuki Sakakibara made an announcement on Friday, December 24th, that Tenshin vs. Takeru will take place in June of 2022.

Assuming everything goes to plan, the bout will take place at Tenshin’s consistent fighting weight of the last several years, 58kg (128 lbs). That will require a bit of extra cutting and weight management from Takeru, who has been competing at 60kg (132) lbs since 2018.

As part of the announcement, the two men faced off during a press conference for the assembled media.

According to a report from MMA Fighting, an exact date, venue, or even hosting promotion has not yet been finalized. In fact, the two men have yet to even settle on the exact rules or number of rounds. With The-Fighter.net reporting that Takeru has requested the bout have an unlimited number of rounds in case of a draw, until a clear winner can be declared.

During the press event, Takeru spoke about the delays in getting the fight booked, and his desire that the bout be held on a “neutral” playing field (transcript via The Fighter).

“Due to a number of reasons, it took a lot of time for this fight to happen. I’m sure both Tenshin and I have had a lot of painful experiences [as a result of this]…In order for this fight to come to fruition, I’ve been saying for the longest time that it has to be in a neutral ring. By having it in a neutral ring, things like barriers between the promotions [will be knocked down]. In the past, fighters used to face strong fighters regardless of which promotion they came from – I want to present a stage like that. That’s why I thought it was paramount to have it in a neutral ring and at the same time, it was one of the reasons why it took so long.”

At just 23-years-old, Tenshin has also made it clear that he expects this bout to be the final fight of his kickboxing career before he transitions to professional boxing. ‘TEPPEN’ infamously made his exhibition boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather at RIZIN 14, back in 2018. He lost that bout via TKO, just 2:20 into the first round.

Tenshin is currently undefeated as a professional kickboxer, with a record of 42 wins and 0 losses (with 30 of those victories coming via TKO/KO). Takeru (42-2) has not lost a kickboxing bout since 2012, when a broken nose prevented him from continuing past round 1 of a fight against Yuki Kotani. The only decision loss of his career came in his debut bout against future IBF flyweight boxing title contender Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking.