On September of 2019, Shounen Magazine commemorated the 30th anniversary of George Morikawa’s boxing hit, Hajime no Ippo. The first anime debuted 11 years later in 2000. With a total combination up to around 100 episodes, it only covers LESS THAN HALF of the manga! Earlier in 2019, Morikawa admitted in an interview he’s only HALF WAY done! While Shounen Magazine celebrated the manga’s 30th anniversary by featuring fan art submitted by other manga artists such as Hajime Isayama (Attack on Titan) and Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist), Honey’s Anime wishes to celebrate by exploring 5 great fights that are presently exclusive to the manga.
5. Ippo Makunouchi vs. Alfredo Gonzales
Kicking off this list is Ippo’s fight against Alfredo Gonzales, a top contender. What makes Gonzales unique is that he already fought Ricardo Martinez, the champion, twice! Gonzales looks up to Martinez and even emulates his style, most notably his jab. For most of Ippo’s fight camp, he prepares slipping that jab to get on the inside and do what he does best. When it’s fight time, the game plan does work but eventually, Gonzales shows a side of himself he rarely exhibits in his other fights, and everything goes crazy as it becomes a power struggle. This fight is a pure example of Mike Tyson’s most famous saying, everyone’s got a plan until they’re hit. As to how this fight goes, after Ippo’s title defenses and facing other national champions, this is certainly one of his most intense bouts yet.
4. Ichirou Miyata vs. Randy Boy, Jr.
If your exposure to Hajime no Ippo is exclusively through the anime, then you know that Miyata’s father ended his boxing career due to having his jaw shattered in a fight. Miyata eventually gets his revenge against Randy Boy, Jr., who happens to be the son of the man who caused his father to retire. Not only is the fight intense and dramatic, so is the build up with Miyata’s harsh weight control, and how he prepares for Randy’s style as he is known to switch between fighting left-handed and right-handed, which is the ultimate weapon against Miyata’s style. Miyata has speed and technique on his side for sure, but with Randy’s switch hitting, he’s unpredictable and can hit like a mule. Through this fight, you learn that the most powerful punch is the one you don’t see coming and their contrasting styles truly define that.
3. Manabu Itagaki Vs. Kyosuke Imai
In the second anime installment, the Kamogawa Gym gets a new recruit, Itagaki, the number two high school boxer. So, who was number one? That happens to be Imai, who beat Itagaki 3 times in the high school circuit by knockout. Their rivalry reflects Miyata and Ippo’s in a stylistic sense as Ippo and Imai are close range power punchers, while Itagaki and Miyata are speedsters who stick and move. Eventually, they get to fight for the first time as pros in the finals of the East Japan Rookie tournament. Itagaki dominates the first three rounds and even challenges Imai to a close range fight. However, things turn around towards the second half as Imai finds his pace and starts clobbering Itagaki and even scores a knock down on him. Unfortunately, it went to the judges and Itagaki’s performance in the first half was enough to get him a close decision. A few years later, they get their rematch when they fight for the national featherweight title, which was vacated by Ippo. As for how that match turns out, Imai treated that first round as the seventh round of their last fight, so read the manga to find out the rest.
2. Alexander Volg Zangief Vs. Mike Elliot
At a close second, we have Volg Vs. Elliot for the world junior lightweight championship. When we last see Volg in the anime, he unfortunately lost his mother but uses it as motivation to go back to boxing with his first stop at the Kamogawa Gym to get back in fighting shape. Shortly after, Kamogawa hooks Volg up with Hama, his old friend in America. He makes his comeback, rises up the rankings and with one week’s notice, he’s given a shot against Mike Elliot, an Olympic silver medalist. Volg is a former amateur champion so as technical boxers, their skills are equal. Due to Volg taking the fight on short notice, he’s at a major disadvantage. Due to their backgrounds as accomplished amateurs, this fight is unarguably the most technical fight in the manga as both fighters rely on the basics of the sweet science, and then it all came down to who wants it more. If you want to see what pure boxing is all about in a manga sense, this fight has it all!
1. Ryo Mashiba Vs. Ryuhei Sawamura
Coming in at number 1 is one of the series’ most insane bouts, Ryo Mashiba Vs. Ryuhei Sawamura for the national junior lightweight title. Considering how personal this was, both men came into this fight with the worst intentions. Upon the start of the fight, they do attempt to fight clean with their trademark moves, but neither combatant could get their pace going. Eventually, it came down to fouling in order for both men to deal some damage and it wasn’t a boxing match anymore but a street fight! As for how this fight ends, all we can say is it doesn’t end pretty for anyone. So if you want a real brawl that gets really ugly, this fight as it.
With where the manga is, there are plenty of match ups to look forward to and we can’t wait to see where it can go. It’s hard to believe we’re only halfway done! From here, it seems that they sky is the limit! What are some fights exclusive to the manga you like? Please leave a comment!