We’re finally past the Aragaki fight in our look at Megalo Box’s fights with the assistance of Canadian boxer Eli Serada. But it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for our hero Joe as he must now fight the final four challengers for the highest throne in the world of Megalo Boxing: Megalonia. So, let’s analyze our pugilist’s performance.
Mikio, Joe’s first opponent on the Megalonia stage, is a boxer, but mainly as a means to grab the seat at the top of his family’s Shirato conglomerate, which is running this tournament. The current chairman, his sister, is becoming less trusted by the board who see Megalonia as an unsafe investment, so winning the tournament could assert Mikio’s dominance over the company and promote his new A.I. driven gear.
That’s right, Mikio has engineered a gear that uses advanced artificial intelligence to predict his opponents’ moves. This, in turn, means Mikio can easily do what Joe has struggled to do consistently through the series, which is to say identify when his opponent will be open and hit quick enough for a devastating counter. This is not going to be an easy ride for Joe by any means.
Man vs Machine
We only start seeing this fight as it’s already underway, where Mikio is keeping Joe on the defensive by throwing numerous quick jabs. This is a good strategy for a tall boxer fighting a short one as it takes advantage of his long arms. Joe needs to get in close to compensate for his shorter limbs, but if Mikio can keep him focused on blocking, that isn’t going to happen.
Joe tries to get in by throwing a few combinations but to no avail. Yet he continues to try to approach in this manner. “Joe shows he lacks a plan,” said Serada, frustrated at our hero’s repeating of tactics that clearly aren’t working. Joe must be frustrated as well since he keeps his hands far enough apart for Mikio to land a clean hit to his face. Not a good start to the fight.
Nanbu shares in the irritation as well, scolding Joe for rushing in blindly and telling him to use his feet to step around the opponent, a tactic Serada found much smarter. "If anyone can overpower you, you don't want to fight them head-on,” he said. “You want to move to the side and try to create your openings. You don’t want to stand there and straight up brawl with them because you’re going to lose. It's a lot easier to get in from the side since the opponent can't punch you"
But easier is shown to be a very relative term when Mikio slips Joe’s jab despite his sidesteps and knocks him down. Joe gets up with a combo lead by an uppercut. Mikio still dodges and counters with ease, still not giving Joe any openings.
Finding a Way In
Serada was able to catch a potential weakness in Mikio’s form, as he fails to twist his foot properly when punching. A flashback is shown later indicating that Mikio tended to have a hard time getting his gear to match his movements, so it could be that it’s throwing punches for him without correctly synchronizing with his mind. In fact, we see Mikio throw a left as he steps with his right foot, even though boxers are supposed to step with the foot on the same side their punch is coming from to maintain momentum. He even misses Joe throughout all this, suggesting that although it’s perfect for predicting attacks, his gear is not properly optimized for the offense. It may be a very minor flaw in his form, but for now, it's Joe's only hope.
So, what’s Joe’s plan? To stand still with his guard down. Yes, that’s really it, and it works.
Why Staying Open Like That Isn’t a Stupid Idea
Like we said, Mikio’s gear means his offense is his weakest tool, so what Joe is doing essentially forces the former to do what he’s worst at. In fact, the gear doesn’t even know how to react at first and the round ends before Mikio can land another punch.
The next round starts off better for Mikio, as we see his punches are not only landing but getting heavier and heavier because the gear is recognizing the opening as safe. But Mikio is not a machine and knows this is a trick. He knows he needs to end the fight here and his gear feints a right-handed punch and then swings a left. The problem is, he leads with his right foot which, just as before, halts his momentum, giving Joe time to dodge it and connect a devastating uppercut for the comeback, knocking Mikio out.
It was only a split-second difference, but Joe won because he trusted his human judgment rather than that of a computer. Our hero was victorious because of his unwavering confidence against an opponent who trusted a machine more than himself, a display that our expert called “One of the most true-to-life parts of the entire show.”
With subtle foreshadowing and satisfying payoffs, this single fight manages to tell a nuanced story with an impactful moral. Big thanks once again to Eli Serada for helping us appreciate the brilliance of these battles. Be sure to let us know what you thought of this fight in the comments and stay posted to Honey’s Anime for more.