It’s here: Megalonia. The world’s biggest megalo boxing event the show has been building up to. We’ve seen our hero Joe go to hell and back throughout the earlier episodes and it’s all been so that he could get here. Only one thing stands between Joe and his rematch with rival boxer Yuri; the ferocious Glen Burroughs, who is more than eager to pound Joe into the dirt in order to get a shot at Yuri’s title. As always, we have the privilege of being joined by Canadian boxer Eli Serada to help with our analysis of the fight, but something about this match makes it very different from others seen earlier in the series. Those who fear spoilers should turn back now and go watch through the show, but for those who don’t, let’s get right into it.
Locker Room Talk
Before we go straight to the fight itself however, there's a touching moment that's worth noting at the start of episode 11, where Joe tells his corner boy Sachio about how he likes to feel whatever solid object is around him before an important fight in order to keep his composure, something that was shown earlier in the series. As it turns out, this is not just a little bit of dramatic flair, but in actuality, a very grounded mindset for a boxer. "The worst part of a fight is right before the fight," said Serada. “Once you step in [to the ring], it’s bread and butter, another day at work, but the most fear you feel is right before the fight. That’s when you start questioning yourself. Everybody has their own way of coping with this fear, I like to listen to music and keep myself moving to stay energized.”
Although we’ve known for a long time now that Megalo Box has portrayed the sport of boxing surprisingly realistically but such a down-to-earth representation of a fighter’s mentality is something different altogether that continues the show’s streak of raising the bar. With that out of the way, on with the fight.
He Ain’t Pretty No More
It's looking like the end of the road for Gearless Joe; the yakuza boss who got him into the boxing circuit to begin with is making him throw the match in order to raise the profits he makes from his underground betting services. Furthermore, he's making Joe go off-brand and start wearing gear again. Our protagonist had actually forsaken the show's mechanical boxing enhancements for most of the series, but with Joe no longer in the driver's seat, it looks like the boss has decided to bring it back; perhaps to better sell Joe’s jobbing to this week’s opponent, Burroughs. As Nanbu and the boss watch from the box seats, we’re left with nothing but guesses as to how Joe will proceed. Will he really give everything up after coming so far? Will he try to win even at the risk of his and Nanbu’s lives? If he tries, can he even beat Burroughs?
Only time will answer these questions, but for now, Joe is visibly upset about the situation, as his hesitation stops him from going on the offensive much at all. He’s still supposed to make the fight look good before going down in the third round though, so he tries throwing a jab here and there and while they connect, he’s too hesitant to take advantage of the many times Burroughs leaves himself open.
That’s right, Burroughs actually isn’t really that good of a boxer in terms of technique. He seems to mostly rely on his brute force and speed to overwhelm his opponents, or what Serada called a "charging bull style". There are big gaps in this guy's offense where Joe could potentially pull ahead, but he rarely goes to hit them at first. In fact, Joe's offense isn't much better, maneuvering pretty badly and spreading his arms out too far to guard properly. It seems like Joe has lost all motivation to compete and has elected not to take the fight seriously. The good news is, this doesn't last for too long.
With Nanbu’s encouragement, Joe starts trying to fight back. Burroughs is not shy about telegraphing his punches, so Joe is easily able to duck one and hit with a hard counter. Burroughs has a fighting style our informer compared to that of a bull, quickly charging forward and hitting as hard as possible. This was actually a strategy we talked about earlier when Joe used it to get in close during his fight with the pawn shop guard. It doesn't go quite as well for Burroughs, here though, as Joe lands another clean counter hit to end the first round.
Our hero's second wind is short-lived, however, as Burroughs adopts a more defensive style for round 2, meaning that Joe can no longer rely on his counterpunches. Joe, being naturally uninvested in a fight he's not allowed to win, starts to swing wildly and takes some mean hits for doing so, but a mini-pep talk from coach Nanbu reminds him of his passion for boxing, and he starts moving and attacking more precisely, while Burroughs can only hit his gear.
Having the enhancements Joe had previously rejected fall off of him as he regains the boxer’s spirit that had made him want to do such a thing is not exactly a very subtle metaphor, but it’s sure to strike a chord with fans nonetheless and shows Joe’s character progression without the need to slow down the fight to show his inner thoughts to boot.
Joe gets right into the big brute’s face and baits out an uppercut from Burroughs, which the former ducks artfully and responds with a hit to the solar plexus. Burroughs’ body does not take this hit lightly, as it’s forced into a bend by the sheer force of the impact, leaving him open for a long hook to the jaw to end round 2. Serada considered this one of the most important exchanges in the fight in terms of showcasing Joe’s skills. “He really knows how to fight a taller opponent,” he said. “[Joe] knows never to go for the head when fighting a tall opponent, because the head can move more easily than the body can. Joe’s throwing a lot of body shots and that’s what you want to do; wear down the body, make the person tired . . . and if you hit the body hard enough, the head will come to you.”
Burroughs is clearly hurt, but he hasn’t even been knocked down, let alone out, but it’s great to see Joe get his drive for boxing back. Of course, there’s still the issue of a yakuza boss forcing him to go down in the very next round. Will Joe’s reignited passion for real megalo boxing lead him to beat Burroughs even if it means risking the lives of himself and his friends?
It will, of course, all be covered in the next round, but until then, let us know what you thought of this fight in the comments and be sure to stay posted to Honey's Anime for all the anime information you need.