The possibility of a mouthwatering matchup between Takeru and Tenshin Nasukawa is the talk of the kickboxing world. Nobuyuki Sakakibara Is the man trying to make it happen and the Rizin president gave some detail about the difficulties involved.

Takeru was cageside at Rizin 26 to see a Tenshin beat Kumandoi Phetjaroenvit. It has led to intense speculation that the two kickboxers will finally fight in 2021.

Sakakibara says that talks between Rizin and K-1 are already underway,

“We’ve contacted them several times about making it happen,” he said.

Good guy

According to Sakakibara part of the problem is that Takeru is reluctant to turn his back on K-1 in order to sign with Rizin,

“Takeru is sincere, he’s a good guy. The new K-1 brand is something he moulded, he couldn’t just leave everyone behind like Kouzi to make the Tenshin fight possible. It’s just not how he is. He felt it would be betraying the fans and everyone in K-1.”

However he is adamant that securing the dream fight with Tenshin is a priority for Takeru,

“He’s been constantly criticized for ducking Tenshin and he wants to prove people wrong,” Sakakibara said.

Existing schedule 

Takeru is booked to face Leona Pettas at K’Festa 4 although the card has been postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis. When the situation improves in Japan this fight is likely to be rescheduled.

Meanwhile Tenshin’s next fight is set for February 28th. He will be facing Shiro on a Rise card in Yokohama.

So there doesn’t seem to be much prospect of the two men facing off at Rizin 27. That card is booked for the Tokyo Dome on March 14th although no fights have been announced at the time of writing.

In 2019 Tenshin announced that he wanted to fight Takeru at the Tokyo Dome. Presumably he imagined it would be filled to the rafters, rather than running at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing measures.

Call for compromise 

With Takeru and Tenshin both in the same building when Rizin 27 was announced many fans thought that a March 24th meeting between the two was inevitable. But negotiations sill have a long way to go according to Sakakibara.

He called on all the parties involved to work together in order to make one of the biggest fights the kickboxing world has to offer,

“We all need to compromise just a bit. Realizing this fight should be everybody’s number one priority.”