Akira Shigeta (茂田 晃, Shigeta Akira) is a retired featherweight southpaw professional boxer who sparred against Ippo Makunouchi, as well as being the first southpaw opponent for Ippo, and who fought against Takeshi Sendō for the JBC championship belt.
Shigeta was the East and All Japan featherweight rookie king of his generation which by using the unorthodox southpaw style, he made his way up the Japanese ranks, until he became featherweight's fourth ranker; where he got to challenge Sendō for the championship belt.
After Ippo returned from his training camp in the mountains, Shigeta and his coach stopped by Kamogawa Boxing Gym for a sparring match against him in order to gain confidence for his upcoming JBC title match against Sendō, which was a month away. When the spar began, Shigeta dominated Ippo from the very beginning with his quick jabs. Without any experience fighting against a southpaw, Ippo struggled against Shigeta. The spar continued on with Shigeta dominating until the bell rang for the final time. Shigeta and his coach left the Kamogawa gym in high spirits for their upcoming title match.
At the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium when the match began, Shigeta had the advantage against Sendō because he was not used to the Southpaw stance. By the time Ippo returned to watch the match, Sendō was getting repeatedly hit by Shigeta's right jab. Sendō threw a Smash, but Shigeta easily deflected it. The first round ended with a dominate performance from Shigeta, where it made Sendō frustrated. In his corner, Shigeta thought Ippo and Sendō to not amount to much outside of their strengths.
In the second round, Sendō noticed that Shigeta's punches seemed different, where Shigeta's non-dominate arm was strong. As Sendō faltered, Shigeta went for the finish, but he received a body blow instead, sending him back. Before Sendō could attempt to throw a follow-up, Shigeta countered with a hook that began to affect Sendō's legs, which caused him to clinch. During the clinch, Shigeta taunted Sendō, saying "Is this all you got?" The clinch then broke and Shigeta began to dodge Sendō's wild swings as he became extremely upset until Shigeta cornered him. As the gong sounded, Shigeta performed a victory pose in front of Sendō. In Shigeta's corner, Shigeta was satisfied at the crowd's reaction and went out for the third round.
The third round began with Shigeta landing a hit that left Sendō confused as his fans begged him to not fall. With Sendō on the ropes, Shigeta was ready to finish him, but caught in a clinch by the champion. Shigeta used this opportunity to once again ask if that is all he had, and further exclaimed he and Ippo were worthless. When they separated, Shigeta threw an attack intending to end the match, but Sendō barely dodged. As Shigeta was ready to throw another, Sendō with a quick dash, made his way in before the challenger could throw. Now face-to-face, Shigeta was hit with a body blow. Sendō's powerful shot caused Shigeta to go down. Shigeta got on his feet and appears to be calm, as he expected the current situation could happen. He remembered the plan for the right Cross Counter and was ready to keep fighting. As Sendō closed in with a left, Shigeta threw his counter, but Sendō's new speed was more than Shigeta could handle. Sending Shigeta to the ropes with a powerful blow, Sendō relentlessly hit Shigeta despite the fact that he was unconscious while standing. Despite this, Shigeta's trainer was still hopeful that he would manage to pull through and allowed the match to continue rather than throwing in the towel. When the referee stopped Sendō, Shigeta finally fell to the canvas and Shigeta lost the match. Shigeta was approached by Sendō, who kneeled in front of him. Sendō told Shigeta that since he probably would not be fighting ever again, he would let him know (as a response to the continuous taunts) "That's what I got!".
After the match, Shigeta lied unconsciously in wait for an ambulance. As his trainer expressed regret for not stopping the fight, Shigeta woke up unable to remember the ending of the fight, but realised he had lost. Shigeta then became shocked and jerked bis head back when his trainer moved his hand toward his face to fix his towel due to Shigeta having Punch Eye. Shigeta then left the stadium, hoping to do better next time.
|10||LOSS||9-1-0||1993-09||Takeshi Sendō||Tokyo, Japan||3(10), 0:41||KO||JBC Featherweight Title Match|
|1||WIN||1-0-0||199X||Unknown||Unknown||?(4)||KO/TKO||Pro Debut Match|
|Preceded by||Title||Succeeded by|
|Ippo Makunouchi||All Japan Featherweight Rookie King||Unknown|
|Ippo Makunouchi||East Japan Featherweight Rookie King||Unknown|
Shigeta has brown messy hair and black coloured eyes. When he sparred with Ippo, he wore a black tank top and beige pants. During his ring entrances, he wears a robe with a shooting star pattern and "NEW JAPAN" on the bottom-left side. In the ring, he wears blue and white boxing shorts and shoes with both having a shooting star pattern on them while his boxing shorts has the name "Akira" on the name plate.
Shigeta's dominant personality trait in both anime and manga is his arrogance, however in his spar with Ippo he modestly suggests that Ippo is 'not on form' (rather than he himself being better) and goes on to say that he hopes the next time they fight he'll be at his best.
Shigeta was right-handed but voluntarily trained himself to become a southpaw. From this training he succeeded in arming himself with a strategical advantage over most boxers and a strong right jab. Also, being a southpaw, his right arm's positioning allowed him to throw powerful counters, even without the rapid reaction speed of other counter-punchers. Even without his signature gimmick, Shigeta was a talented boxer in all fields, with good evasive skills and strong punches.
His style itself has no particular weaknesses, but Shigeta himself was not prepared for Sendō's new found speed or the power of his unblocked punches.