Welcome back to our in-depth analysis of how Megalo Box portrays actual boxing. In our last part, we got through all of the small fry, meaning this is where the real fights begin. We were lucky enough to be able to talk some more with decorated Canadian boxer Eli Serada to get some insight into the show’s combat, so let’s see how our hero Joe does in his next bout.
Samejima was no big deal for Joe once the latter found his footing, but both are pretty low in the circuit’s ranking system. Fortunately for Joe, an exceptionally high ranked fighter is not only willing to accept a fight offer, he actively wants to battle our gearless parvenu. The downside is that this desire is solely because he wants to use Joe as a proxy to get revenge on Coach Nanbu by beating our protagonist to a bloody pulp. After all, Aragaki has a long professional history of extreme violence against his opponents, to the point that they’re more like victims when he’s done with them. It’s certainly going to take more than just a relaxed composure to get Joe out of this one in one piece.
The fight starts out deceptively light, with just a few quick jabs from either opponent. This is a fairly typical start for a boxing match as each combatant tries to get a feel for the other with safe, non-committal punches.
But as Serada explains, the jab has more use than just being a quick hit: "One of the things you want to do with a jab is gauge distance. If you can hit someone with your jab, you can hit them with your cross [an important point, since Joe's signature, is the cross counter].”
We soon see Joe’s counter-punching characteristics rear their head, as he taunts Aragaki into throwing an unsafe punch that he slips and counters. This advantage is short-lived, however, as Aragaki is able to quickly counter Joe’s counter with a punch that knocks Joe clean off his feet despite being blocked. Our boxing informant was unable to determine whether this was the result of bad footwork or the strength of Aragaki’s gear because of the angle the scene was animated from, but either way the danger the latter presents is on full display.
Joe gets up unhurt though and the two continue to struggle for any sort of lead. One is quickly found, as Aragaki’s punches overwhelm Joe’s block and he lands a clean hit. Joe is knocked down yet again but looks much worse for wear this time.
Can’t Escape from Crossing Fists
As we see Joe stand back up, he initially appears to be holding his own a lot more. Now is when it becomes apparent that this fight will be almost always fought up close, with most punches being relatively safe and displaying an emphasis on footwork. This is a big step up from Joe’s lower ranked fights in terms of how strategically and professionally the fighters act. We’ll see no more bouts where big, exaggerated and impractical movements were commonplace and enemies threw themselves behind every punch. Of course, this means that the animation team deserves lots of praise for this true to life rendering of highly skilled boxers that not only show us how far Joe has come in a few short episodes but add enough flourishes to the presentation to stop the realism from dragging down the excitement of the fight.
Back in the ring, we see that Aragaki’s high skill level is still plainly apparent, as even though Joe makes the right choice and begins turtling, we see that the former’s smart movement and precise hits are starting to break that turtle’s shell and Joe can’t seem to get a good hit in to bring himself back into the fight. We need to praise the animators again here, as they do a great job of drawing Joe and Aragaki’s expressions in a way that viewers can easily feel the gears turning in their heads as they try to figure out how to get in on the enemy. This is also Joe's first time facing off against another counter puncher, which makes mind games like these all the more prevalent since both boxers have styles focused around waiting for the other to get open.
Joe’s most notable tactical decision is to clinch, a defensive move where one boxer wraps his arms around the other to force a break in the action. Serada noted that the crowd’s antipathy towards this move is also extremely accurate to real life boxing. The clinch’s reprieve is sadly short-lived as Aragaki breaks the hold and continues to overpower and outmaneuver Joe until the end of the first round.
Yup, all that was only a single round. We’re unfortunately no longer seeing many new techniques from our fighters, but that’s only because the weaker opponents used to ease us into the series are behind us. This fight marks where things get serious. But don’t worry, we’ll be sure to cover all of round 2 in Round 4. What do you mean that’s confusing?
Anyway, until then let us know what you thought in the comments and stay posted to Honey’s Anime.