The Early Days Arc, also known as Early Times Arc, is the first story arc in the series and the first in the Rookie King Saga. This arc introduces Makunouchi Ippo as he makes his pro debut and the start of the rivalry between him and Miyata Ichirō.
After school, Makunouchi Ippo is asked by his classmates to come to the movies, but rejects as he has to work night shift at his family's fishing boat business. As he walks home after school, Ippo is stopped by Umezawa Masahiko, Takemura, and Matsuda. The group begins to pick on and beat Ippo, but is stopped by Takamura Mamoru, who happens to be jogging by. Takamura takes the unconscious Ippo to Kamogawa Boxing Gym, who then wakes up, surprised he's at a boxing gym. Takamura tells Ippo to go home, but as Ippo starts to walk out, Takamura stops him to let him punch a drawing of Umezawa taped on a sandbag. Ippo fails the first few times, but after learning how to properly throw a punch, he throws a punch that shocks everyone at the gym. After Takamura explains to Ippo about how Mike Tyson was also picked on as a child and then became a champion, he gives Ippo boxing videos of Tyson. As he watches the videos at his house, Ippo wonders what it feels to be strong and wants to now start boxing. Ippo meets up with Takamura and asks what it feels to be strong. Takamura then hits a tree and catches leaves that fall, telling Ippo to catch 10 leaves and he will teach him boxing. After days of trying to succeed, Ippo finally manages to do it while Takamura watches in disbelief.
The Spar Against Miyata
Takamura, keeping his promise, introduces Ippo to Kamogawa Genji, who doesn't believe Ippo is pro boxer material, but after some thinking, lets Ippo spar against Miyata Ichirō to have a chance to show his skill. The first round of the spar, Miyata overwhelms Ippo with his footing and punches, knocking Ippo down twice, while tanking hits including a big right body blow. Second round, Ippo takes a fighting pose and starts throwing jabs that Miyata blocks and dodges, Ippo manages to blow away Miyata's guard with a right, but is stopped by the gong before throwing a follow-up. In the third round, Miyata punches Ippo's jaw and goes down, however much to everyone's surprise, Ippo stands back up, before falling down again after one punch. Ippo stands back up and attempts to hit Miyata until he gets countered and falls down, passing out and ending the spar. Ippo passes the test as Kamogawa, impressed with Ippo, tells Takaura to have Ippo come back everyday.
The Rematch Against Miyata
In order for Ippo to win against Miyata in three months, Kamogawa taught Ippo the uppercut. Ippo then learns how to shadow box and uses Miyata's shadow as an opponent, Ippo also gets new boxing shoes with the help of Miyata. After Ippo tells Kamogawa that he wants to take Miyata's counter head-on, Ippo begins harsh training for the rest of the three months.
When the match starts, Ippo's progress shows immediately, as he is able to hit Miyata and even downing him multiple times. Miyata also had to clinch, a tactic he rarely does. The match had multiple downs on both boxers, ending with Miyata defeated on the fourth round and Ippo winning the match by using a uppercut that seemingly missed, but later confirmed by Fujii Minoru that it hit by one centimetre.
Ippo finds Miyata and asks why he left the gym, Miyata states that he can't fight him in the pro ring if he's from the same gym, wanting to settle the 1-1 score at the Rookie King Tournament.