We’re back, to continue our look at Megalo Box's penultimate match between our hero Joe and his opponent Glen Burroughs. Unbeknownst to the latter, Joe is being blackmailed to take a dive in the forthcoming round by the yakuza boss who got him into the Megalonia tournament he dreamed of winning. Despite a momentary disillusionment, Joe retains his passion for megalo boxing and is passionately outmaneuvering his foe, but will now need to give it all up to throw the match in the next round or put the lives of himself and his friends in jeopardy. He has a difficult choice to make, but whatever he does, we still have the privilege of teaming up with Canadian boxer Eli Serada to take an in-depth look at the battle.
3rd Round’s the Charm
Starting the third round, we see the two boxers trade more punches and see that Joe has changed his stance from the earlier rounds. We mentioned in the last round that Joe was keeping his arms too high and wide to be able to block correctly, but now he’s back to the stance we had complimented him on before: staying low and turtling.
Our expert also noticed that Burroughs is actually using the bad stance Joe had adopted earlier in the fight, lifting and spreading his arms in a way that leaves him with essentially no guard. Having Joe fight against someone using the same stance he had when he was doubting himself and hesitating is a brilliantly subtle way of showing his struggle against such things, showing us that the battle is being fought against Joe’s personal demons just as much as against Burroughs.
And the demons are winning, it seems, as Joe never tries to counter Burroughs in spite of the many opportunities to do so. Backed into the turnbuckle, Joe stands still and turtles, perhaps mentally prepared to take the dive or perhaps just too scared to fight back. Finally taking a big hit from Burroughs, Joe goes down and seems like he’s going to finish his Megalonia career right here.
The Gearless Comeback
In a quick character turn, coach Nanbu turns on the yakuza and shouts at Joe through his microphone to get up. Joe stands up through an inspiring rotating shot, the last of his broken gear crumbling off of him, leaving nothing but the true essence of Joe as a boxer to finish the fight.
As Joe steps up to his enemy, he makes it clear that he's done with waiting idly while his opponent stays open. Burroughs throws two extremely telegraphed hooks which Joe dodges effortlessly and counters with a punch to the gut, followed by a career-ending uppercut that Burroughs appears to dodge, if only by a hair.
Appearances can be deceiving, as Serada saw this uppercut, not as an intention of knocking Burroughs out, but simply to provoke him: “Nanbu [earlier in the fight] did say he could land that uppercut, so [Joe] may have missed that uppercut just to get Burroughs to rush in, just like his corners tell him not to.” We quickly see this theory hold water, as Burroughs gets visibly angry and pulls his right arm back, an obvious sign that he’s going to try to punch with it. But, as we already know, Joe is through with hesitating. He throws a quick left jab to the blonde giant’s jaw and he hits the canvass for good, netting Joe a well-deserved victory.
Burroughs and Beyond
Joe's struggle against Burroughs was not only a brilliantly choreographed bout but also a well-told story of our protagonist cementing his drive for what he's doing. Normally, that's the sort of thing we say when closing out a segment of our ongoing analysis, but Joe's corner Sachio also went on a journey of self-discovery in this episode. We haven't talked about Sachio much because he tends to have little direct connection to the fights. He's an interesting character but not a boxer or boxing coach, so his actions in the show tend to fall out of this analysis' purview. However, that all changes for episode 11, during the middle of Joe’s fight against Burroughs.
It may be surprising to hear, but Sachio is perhaps the one hit the hardest by the revelation that Joe is being forced to throw the fight. Unlike Joe and Nanbu, who at least went to the event, even if it was because of blackmail, Sachio storms off angrily, unable to accept the fact that the rest of the team is giving up on their collective goal of bringing Joe to victory at Megalonia. To be clear, Sachio never really gives up on Joe, after taking out his frustrations and remembering his faith in his friends, he heads straight back to the ring to plead Joe from the sidelines not to let Burroughs win.
The reason we’re talking about this is that Sachio decides to take out this frustration in a prolonged scene of shadow boxing, presumably trying to imitate things he’s seen Joe do. Some may dismiss this as a simple anecdote with nothing of note beyond its presence in Sachio’s character arc, but his technique was enough to catch Serada’s eye, to the point that he called it “extremely good for an amateur” and “in terms of actual boxing, already better than Burroughs”. He went on to elaborate, saying that “he’s got his hands up, he’s got his elbows in and he’s actually throwing pretty decent punches.” If these comments sound familiar, it’s probably because they’re the same things that our expert said made Joe such a good fighter from the start of the show. In fact, the way Sachio is framed against surrounding street lights as well as the low angles he’s being shot from directly parallel a scene near the start of Megalo Box where Joe shadow boxes out of an excitement for facing Yuri. These important details show the impact Joe has had on Sachio throughout the story on top of illustrating the confidence he regains in his friend, advancing not only his own characterization but developing both Joe's character as well as the theme of having confidence in what's important which the episode presents to us.
Joe vs Burroughs may not be the most plot-relevant or well-choreographed match in Megalo Box, but it nonetheless checks all the right boxes for punchy action and heartening character exploration. Of course, the show isn’t over yet, so be sure to stick to Honey’s Anime for the next part of this analysis, where we step into the ring for one last fight.