Japanese kickboxing prodigy Tenshin Nasukawa defeated his arch-rival and compatriot Takeru in the mega-fight billed as the the ‘fight of the century’ to retire from the sport undefeated in front of 56,399 fans at the Tokyo Dome on Sunday.

Nasukawa, 23, scored a unanimous decision win over K-1 ace Takeru Segawa, 30 to seal his kickboxing record at 42-0 and cement his place as kickboxing’s kingpin in Japan.

Th Match 2022, a joint production by Rise K-1 and Rizin, which was broadcast live in Japan on pay per view by Abema featured a stacked 16-fight card with the majority of bouts pitting the country’s leading kickboxing organizations, Rise and K-1, against each other.

The dream main event took years to materialize and was finally made a reality soon after Tenshin officially announced his plans to transition from kickboxing to pro boxing.

Hottest ticket

Japan’s epic battle for kickboxing supremacy was the hottest ticket in town despite the astronomical prices. Tickets were the highest in Japanese martial arts history and Japanese entertainment history with first row seats costing 3 million yen, the second row costing 2mn yen and third row setting you back 1mn yen.

Thousands upon thousands queued all day long in Tokyo Dome City, clad in fight gear and with unchartered levels of excitement, on a day when the sport’s biggest possible became a realty. The Japanese fight scene was truly reinvigorated with the show of the year contender producing a $25 million USD gate.

Sunday’s all-star show rekindled memories of the glory years of the old K-1 and Pride for fight fans the world around with today’s attendance surpassing the last K-1 event at the Tokyo Dome, the 2006 World Grand Prix Final, which drew 54,800 fans.

The 58kg clash was set for three rounds with a possible one round extension and with 6oz gloves being used. Takeru was first to make his entrance and looked even more nervous than usual as he was lifted from the entrance to the ramp via a crane before his opponent entered via the same method.

Biggest night

Both fighters soaked up the occasion, the biggest night of their lives and the defining fight of their kickboxing careers and it was time for former fighter turned referee Minoru Toyonaga to get the dream bout underway at 9pm local time.

Tenshin took the centre of the ring in round one and fired off some punch combinations. Takeru pushed forward despite Tenshin having some success with his jab and some blood was visible coming from the nose of the K-1 hope.

Tenshin attacked with a high left knee but didn’t get all of it before the telling moment of the fight. A left hook counter from Tenshin floored Takeru to earn the former a 10-8 round on the scorecards.

An accidental clash of heads opened up the contest in the second round as Tenshin, who came off worse, lost his rhythm and focus, after having his right eye checked over in the corner.

Final fight

Takeru became the aggressor but Tenshin was still able to evade Takeru’s attacks. Both men fought to keep their composure in round two, with Tenshin landing a shot to the back of the head of Takeru who had just slammed his rival to the mat following a coming together.

As Takeru rested and listened to his corner before the final round, Tenshin was on his feet early and looked agitated.

Tenshin looked potentially vulnerable at times in the final two rounds, but as Takeru mixed up his levels there was not enough power behind his shots to trouble Tenshin.

Takeru walked through several straights from Tenshin and smiled but boxing-bound Tenshin did not succumb to the mind games. The K-1 star became desperate and wild in the final 30 seconds of round three but failed to land anything of note.

Tenshin won by unanimous decision to secure the greatest win of his young career. Afterwards, as a desolate Takeru left the ring, he confirmed that this would be the final fight of his kickboxing career as he transitions full time to boxing.

The Match, Tokyo Dome, June 19th
Tenshin Nasukawa def. Takeru Segawa by Decision (Unanimous)
Kaito Ono def. Masaaki Noiri by Extra Round Decision (Unanimous)
SKento Haraguchi def. Hideaki Yamazaki by TKO (Ref Stoppage) in R2
Rukiya Anpo def. Kosei Yamada by Decision (Unanimous)
Kongnapa Weerasakreck def. Taiju Shiratori by TKO (Punch) in R1
Kan Nakamura def. Leona Pettas by Decision (Majority)
Ya-Man def. Ryusei Ashizawa by KO (Punch) in R1
Hiromi Wajima def. BeyNoah by Decision (Unanimous)
Sina Karimian def. Rikiya Yamashita by Decision (Unanimous)
CMahmoud Sattari def. Yuta Uchida by KO (punch) in R1
SYuki Kasahara def. Chihiro Nakajima by Decision (Unanimous)
Kazane Nagai def. Toma Kuroda by Extra Round Decision (Unanimous)
Mutsuki Ebata def. Riamu by Extra Round Decision (Split)
Masashi Kumura def. Shiro byDecision (Unanimous)
Masahiko Suzuki def. Jkihiro Kaneko by Decision (Majority)
Rui Okubo def. Ryujin Nasukawa by Decision (Unanimous)