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The Class A Tournament: White Fang Arc, also known as Lone Wolf Arc, is the ninth story arc in the series and the third in the Class A Contender Saga.

Makunouchi Ippo continues the Class A Tournament to reach his goal: Date Eiji's JBC featherweight title. However, Alexander Volg Zangief has the same goal and is faced up against Ippo in a deciding battle of who will face the featherweight champion.

Summary

The White Fang

White Fang

Volg using the White Fang.

The second match of the featherweight Class A Tournament between "White Fang" Volg and Suzuki begins. Ippo watches the match with Takamura and Date (who also watched Ippo and Saeki's match) to see who will be his next opponent. Suzuki rushes towards Volg, who dodges Suzuki's punch with a light sidestep. Suzuki then throws a big right that misses, however Suzuki touches Volg with his left shoulder to stay in close range. After Volg gets hit twice, both boxers exchange hits multiple times until Suzuki steps back. Suzuki puts hit guard up, however Volg precisely punches through the holes in his guard. The referee gets between Volg and Suzuki, but Volg pushes the referee aside and continues hitting the helpless Suzuki and then as the towel is thrown from Suzuki's side, Volg lands his White Fang, causing Suzuki to go down and the match ends with Volg winning. Ippo is shocked by the performance and wonders why Volg did not smile after winning.

Celebration at the Giant Echo

Ippo celebrating at the Giant Echo.

The first round for the junior lightweight and lightweight Class A Tournament then begins with Kimura winning in a decision and Aoki winning by knockout after using his new technique, the Frog Punch. After the matches, the boxers go to the Giant Echo Karaoke to celebrate. There, Takamura decides to sing the song "Champion". Ippo, Aoki, and Kimura are shocked when they see Hayami in the video as the song plays. Ippo, Aoki, and Kimura then joins to sing the song along with Takamura.

Yamada Naomichi's Farewell Party

Yamada getting informed about moving

Yamada's mother telling her son about the moving day.

After celebrating at the Gaiant Echo karaoke, Takamura invites the boxers to his house for a second party, which is a match review. Yamada expresses how he admires Ippo's liver blow, but can not perform the technique. Ippo shows him a demonstration, but breaks a store sign, causing everyone to run away. After running away, Yamada tells the group that he has to go home, and tells them thanks for everything. With Aoki finding it odd that he thanked them, Takamura claims to have something to say to them that he was told not to say as the three had matches coming up a the time. When Yamada gets home, his mother informs him that they will be moving in two days, asking if Yamada is okay with it as he gets picked on every time they move and he will be unable to go to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym. Yamada reassures her that he is okay with it, and that his memories of Tokyo will be his treasure. His mother apologised, but Yamada told her that being with the Kamogawa gym members changed him, and feels that if he gets picked on again, he will be okay. At Takamura's home, Takamura reveals to Ippo, Aoki, and Kimura that Yamada will be leaving Tokyo in two days. Ippo is shocked at the news and does not want to let Yamada leave. When Kimura mentions a traditional Kamogawa farewell party, Ippo suggests to do it.

Yamada leaving the Kamogawa gym

Yamada leaving the gym, giving his farewells to everyone.

Two days later, Yamada tells Kamogawa his farewells. Yagi informs Yamada that everyone is waiting in the basement, surprising Yamada. When Yamada entered the room, he is told to spar against Takamura, Aoki, Kimura as a farewell party. With Ippo as his second, Yamada fights against the three, ending each spar with a loss, but the three noticed the results of his training during the training camp. Ippo then gets into the ring, wanting to spar for one round with Yamada to not be forgotten. Thinking that it will be his last spar with his senpai, he intends to go all out, as does Ippo. Ippo ends the spar by hitting Yamada with the technique Yamada told him he admired, the liver blow. With the farewell party over, Yamada takes a shower at the gym, reminiscing at the areas he was punched at by each member that he will never forget. When it was time to leave, Yamada tells everyone farewell, as everyone sees him off.

Victory and Defeat, Light and Dark

With the semifinals of the Class A Tournament coming up for Aoki and Kimura, the two want to prove that their junior, ippo, has not passed them and gets fired up as they realise two more wins and they can have a title match, having waited four years for this moment. At Takamura's home, while Takamura was getting a boxing video for Ippo, Takamura opened his closet door and a pile of adult magazines came out. Inside the pile was his middleweight JBC belt, which shocked Kimura and Aoki as they are trying hard to get their JBC belt. After Aoki and Kimura leave due to Takamura joking about Aoki having Takaura's belt, Takamura explains to Ippo that it is his way of encouraging them. Takamura then tells Ippo how his more positive cheering would do nothing for them. Ippo begins watching videos of their opponents and then mimicking their opponent's boxing style while sparring.

The day of Aoki and Kimura's semifinals of the Class A Tournament arrives. Aoki's match against Jackal Itō begins, with Aoki leading in points up to round four. Noticing how he has not widened his point lead, he attempts to finish it with his Frog Punch, but it gets countered, sending him to the canvas. After getting up, Aoki does the Frog Punch again, but this time he turns it into a feint and knocks down Jackal with a hook. Eventually, Aoki is hit by a right hook that passes his guard, knocking him down. With Aoki's legs unable to let him get up, he loses the match, losing the tournament. Kimura's match then begins against Ryūzaki Takeshi. Kimura and Ryūzaki fight until the end of round six where it went to decision. Since the decision was a draw, Kimura and Ryūzaki fight an extra round to determine the winner. Two minutes later, Kimura falls onto the canvas, losing the match and the tournament. Seeing this, Ippo was shocked on how despite how hard they trained, they lost. Takamura then tells him that there can only be one winner, no matter how hard they work, with victory and defeat being like light and dark. When Ippo and Takamura meet Aoki and Kimura after their match, Ippo is surprised about how the atmosphere is uplifted. After Aoki and Kimura leave, Kamogawa tells Ippo that when they lose, they put on a smile and talk cheerfully to put them at ease. Aoki and Kimura express their regrets about their match. They then continue to walk home, wanting to call an old girlfriend to cheer them up.

Gazelle Punch

Ramuda has a meeting with Kamogawa

Kamogawa and Ramuda in an interview.

Kamogawa attends a magazine interview with Volg's trainer, Ruslan Ramuda. During the interview, Ramuda praises Japanese boxer's spirit, while noting how large a number of boxers become broken. He continues to comment how Japanese trainers always answer "fighting spirit" and "great effort" and push their boxers, resulting in the boxer's career being shortened and that he has yet to find Japanese boxers who can defeat Volg . Kamogawa was angered as he was at a lost for words.

Gazelle Punch

Ippo using the Gazelle Punch for the first time.

Ippo returns to the gym, telling Kamogawa, who just came back from the interview, that he can not find a way to defeat Volg, angering Kamogawa due to Ramuda's earlier statements. Kamogawa then has Ippo train for a new weapon by having him do two-hundred squats to strengthen his legs to be resilient to that of a gazelle. After a week of doing squats at a local pool, Ippo returns to the gym and meets Kamogawa, who instructs him on how to use the new technique. Upon using the new technique called the Gazelle Punch on a sandbag, Ippo wonders if it will hit due to the huge motion. Kamogawa informs him that the match with Volg will be a battle of endurance, fighting close range, throwing punches until one runs out of breath. Kamogawa tells Ippo that when Volg runs out of breath, that will be the time to use the Gazelle Punch. Kamogawa then tasks Ippo on endurance training to make sure he is not the one who runs out of breath.

At the Otowa gym, Volg and Ramuda talk about Volg's chance of winning, with Volg unable to come up with a prediction due to Ippo's power increasing after every match. While watching Ippo's matches, Volg is impressed with Ippo's expression of happiness after every match, looking like he is having fun boxing, while Volg feels completely different. With the training Ippo is doing making Ippo's body become fatigue, Yamaguchi visits Ippo to give him a massage as instructed by Kamogawa, who was worried about Ippo. Ippo then continues his endurance training the next morning.

Alexander Volg Zangief

Ippo and Volg talk about Volg's reason for boxing

Ippo talking with Volg.

Date wins his title defence match against Satō Takashi on the seventh round. Ippo, who was watching the match, meets Date in his waiting room to congratulate him. Ippo then strikes a pose with Date for the reporters and learns that his other challenger candidate, Volg, was watching his match and tells Ippo that he does not know who will advance, but will not pull any punches for whoever he faces. At the Kōrakuen Station, Ippo overhears people talking about a "weird foreigner" who looks like he is in trouble. Ippo then meets Volg, who is seeking help because he is lost due to the people he came with leaving him and wants to go home, but can not read the train station's map. Before Ippo helps him get a train ticket, Volg requests to talk with Ippo. Ippo, not knowing what to talk about, notes Tokyo's cold winter weather which Volg finds warm due to Russia's much colder weather. Volg then asks Ippo if he loves boxing. Hearing Ippo says he does, Volg expresses how he is scared of his fists that he deems dangerous, but continues boxing to earn money for his sick mother and to have warm soup that his mother makes. Volg tells Ippo that he will win as Ippo leaves, then comes back when he realises Volg needs help getting a train ticket.

When Ippo gets back home, he wonders if he can win as Volg has memories of his mother. Ramuda has Volg do final preparations for a close-range fight against Ippo as their match is in a few days. As Volg trains his White Fang, Hayami Ryūichi notes how the White Fang is faster than his Shotgun and wonders what Ippo will do about it. After Ippo gets done training, Aoki and Kimura wish him luck for the match the next day, while Takamura wonders whether a gazelle or wolf is stronger.

Class A Tournament Finals - Makunouchi Ippo VS. Alexander Volg Zangief

The next day, the finals for the Class A Tournament begins. With Takamura and Date as guests for commentary, Date bets on Volg while Takamura bets on Ippo. When Ippo and Volg arrive to the ring, Ramuda notices Kamogawa's face being more serious than Ippo, wondering how far his hard work and guts can get against Volg. Ippo feels as if the ring is getting smaller due to Volg's pressure, feeling as if he is locked in a cage with a wild beast.

Ippo unconsciously stopping Volg's right straight

Ippo stopping Volg's right straight while unconscious.

When the first round begins, Volg enters a Crouching style and charges towards Ippo, who is using his Peek-a-Boo style. In an in-fight, Ippo and Volg attack each other with a rush of left jabs, not landing any hits for a long period of time until Volg lands an uppercut. Ippo begins to block his face, however Volg lands another uppercut through his guard. Ippo tightens his guard, Volg then lands a third uppercut, and attempts to throw another follow-up before Ippo dodges it and makes an attempt to get away from the ropes. Volg stops his attempts to get away from the ropes and delivers a series of blows that causes Ippo to go unconscious. Volg throws a right straight at the unconscious Ippo, however, Ippo, still unconscious, stops the attack with a right and begins throwing a combination of lefts and rights on Volg's guard. When Volg backs up to the middle of the ring, Ippo wakes up, and they both go into another in-fight until the gong ending the first round sounds. In Volg's corner, Volg believes it is possible to use out-boxing to take points, but it would be impossible to get into a rhythm as Ippo would keep advancing, realising he needs to stay in an in-fight. Ippo expresses to Kamogawa that he felt like he was in a cage, but realised that there is no where to run in a cage, and can only step forward.

Volg hits Ippo with the White Fang in round two

Volg using the White Fang on Ippo.

Round two begins, Ippo and Volg get into an in-fight, with Volg landings multiple uppercuts, and Ippo landing multiple body blows. As Volg attacks Ippo, he wishes to bring Ippo down early, as he does not want to break him. When Ippo dodges an attack, he lands the Gazelle Punch on Volg, knocking him down. Ramuda is shocked to see the Gazelle Punch and notes how Volg's weakness as a boxer is that he is too kind, giving his opponent slack. Yagi believed Volg could not get up, however Kamogawa points out that Volg's reflexes made him guard the Gazelle Punch with his left hand, weakening the blow. When Volg gets up, Ippo believes he is hopeful for a chance and charges at Volg, who dodges Ippo's punches. Seeing no way to stop Volg with jabs, Ippo attempts to land another Gazelle Punch, however Volg blocks it and begins throwing a combination of punches at Ippo. Volg uses the White Fang on Ippo, who blocks the first hit from below, then gets struck from the second hit from above, getting knocked down. With much struggle, Ippo gets up and the second round ends. In the corner, Ramuda tells Volg that his down was due to his carelessness, with Volg replying that he was going to finish Ippo off after the White Fang, but even as Ippo fell, he threw a left at him, realising that Ippo will not stop attacking until he loses consciousness. Remembering his mother, Volg chooses to defeat Ippo and destroy his consciousness and will to fight. Ippo asks Kamogawa what to do about Volg's White Fang, but Kamogawa simply tells him to go for it.

As round three begins, Volg, knowing that Ippo has not fully recovered, advances towards Ippo, who widens his stance as he chooses to not run away. Ippo gets hit repeatedly with a combination of punches on the ropes until the referee gets between them, giving Ippo a standing down. After seeing Ippo is able to continue, the match continues. Ippo is then shortly downed again by an uppercut. Seeing that Ippo is in trouble, Yagi suggests throwing in the towel, however Kamogawa remembers that Ippo responded clearly when he told Ippo to go for it, and that Ippo always comes through when he says it. Recalling memories of Kamogawa, Ippo stands up and the match continues. Volg becomes shocked as Ippo begins attacking again, with both fighters trading hits multiple times until the third round ends. At the corner, Ippo tells Kamogawa that he is incredible, as Ippo was remembering hitting the mitts with Kamogawa when he did not know what to do, and his punches began hitting. Volg wonders why Ippo is still standing, which Ramuda claims is due to Ippo's fast regeneration, monstrous stamina, and the springing of his knees absorbing the damage. Ramuda instructs Volg to attack Ippo's body in order to stop his knees absorbing the damage.

Ippo landing the Gazelle Punch on Volg in round four

Ippo landing a Low Gazelle Punch on Volg.

Round four then begins with Volg doing as instructed, hitting Ippo with body blows. After delivering a blow to the liver, Volg unleashes attack on Ippo's guard. Yagi claims Ippo's guard will eventually break and he has no weapons left. Kamogawa states that Ippo has a weapon called "courage", something even the best of trainers can not teach. Ippo's guard breaks, and Volg begins to throw a punch, however Ippo hits him with a body blow. Ippo and Volg continue exchanging punches, with Ippo getting hit the most. When Ippo believes it to be the end for him, Volg feels like his body is getting heavy, missing an attack. Ippo begins attacking Volg, who is unable to dodge Ippo's punches due to lacking the stamina. Volg throws a big punch that misses as a feint, knowing that Ippo is about to throw a Gazelle Punch. As Volg steps back to counter the incoming Gazelle Punch Ippo widens his stance, allowing him to hit Volg with a Low Gazelle Punch and then strikes Volg two times, causing him to go down. Volg gets back up, remembering that he took up boxing to become strong like a wolf. Ippo attacks Volg's guard at the ropes until Volg clinches. When the clinch breaks, the two exchange hits until the gong sounds ending the fourth round.

Ippo defeating Volg

Ippo defeating Volg with a Gazelle Punch.

When round five begins, Kamogawa has the towel ready to throw if needed as Ippo's stamina and damage is at his limits, miscalculating that the match would end at round four. Ippo and Volg widen their stance and commences an in-fight battle. When Volg sees a chance, he goes for his White Fang, however, Ippo dodges both hits. Unable to breath anymore, Volg gasps for air, and Ippo delivers a Gazelle Punch on the defenceless Volg, causing him to go down. Volg gets up, feeling like he has taken a liking to boxing, and takes a fighting pose, but he shortly falls, leaning on the referee. With Volg unable to continue, Ippo is declared the winner of the Class A Tournament. While in the ring, Volg tells Ippo that he is strong as they both shake hands. Ramuda bows to Kamogawa, as he feels as if he exchanged many words with him during the match. Ippo then passes out and is carried on a stretcher. As Takamura won the bet on Ippo with Date before the match started, he is angry as he notices that Date has left. Walking out of the Kōrakuen Hall, Date believes Ippo to be the ultimate challenger, and plans to not give up his belt to him.

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