Makunouchi Ippo watches Sendō Takeshi's second title defence against Shigeta Akira. When Sendō won, Ippo believed the Dempsey Roll to be sealed. Ippo and Sendō then began training intensely for their match that has more at stake than the title. The two then fight in a match that shakes the Kōrakuen Hall.
JBC Featherweight Title Match - Sendō Takeshi VS. Shigeta Akira
On the train to Osaka, Ippo and Kamogawa discuss the odds of Sendō winning against Shigeta Akira. When they arrive to the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, they are met with an old woman before the match who they discover is Sendō's grandmother. Just as Sendō's second JBC featherweight title defence match against the confident Shigeta is about to begin, Ippo has to leave the seats to take the grandmother to the bathroom. When Ippo returns with the grandmother, he is shocked to witness Sendō getting hit in a one-sided fight in the first round. When asked what he would do against Shigeta, Ippo tells Kamogawa his close-ranged way of going against the Southpaw's right jabs, however Kamogawa notes that the difference between Ippo and Sendō is that Sendō attacks in middle range, with middle range being in Shigeta's favour. Sendō uses a left Smash, however Shigeta parries it. Shigeta takes advantage of Sendō's shocked state and launches an offence until the gong to end the first round sounds. Sendō is flustered of the thought of Shigeta researching him and countering his Smash, while Shigeta remains confident, thinking how both Sendō and Ippo merely as boxers with just strength.
Round two begins, and Sendō attacks, missing Shigeta who is able to land right jabs on the champion. Sendō manages to get in a right body blow which Shigeta thought he could take but buckles over. When Sendō gets hit by Shigeta's right hook and has a bad reaction to it, he clinches Shigeta before he could land a follow-up. This causes Shigeta tell Sendō in his ear if that is all he got. Sendō breaks out of the clinch, angered at Shigeta's remark. As Shigeta continues to land hits on Sendō, who attacks recklessly due to the remark, Kamogawa comes to a conclusion that the reason Shigeta's right is so powerful, is that he used to be a right-handed fighter before becoming a Southpaw, ultimately making his right jab a straight. The second round ends with Sendō being saved by the gong and Shigeta making a victory pose. With Sendō visibly upset, Kamogawa understands why, as not being able to do anything in front of his fans is what hurts him the most. The champion's grandmother however, condemns her grandson's reaction, suggesting that he should forget the embarrassment and answer his fans' call and try his best to the end. Both fighters leave the corner to continue that match with Sendō in anger and Shigeta wishing to give Sendō's fans more of the same.
When the third round begins, Shigeta attacks Sendō, who is unable to counter the southpaw challenger. Sendō clinches again, and Shigeta says to Sendō how Ippo and him are nothing special. When the clinch breaks, Shigeta attempts to hit Sendō with an overhand, but Sendō dodges and, before Shigeta could throw another punch, Sendō dashed in close range and threw a body blow that downs Shigeta. Kamogawa wonders how Sendō's speed increased vastly until he notices Sendō's bulkier-than-usual build on his calf muscles. Kamogawa deems Sendō's trainer to be no ordinary man by knowing the limits of strength boxing and targeting the lower area. When Shigeta gets up, he plans to finish the match with a right Cross Counter. His attempt failed as Sendō stepped in faster than Shigeta thought he would. Sendō continuously hits the defenceless Shigeta until the referee stopped him and Shigeta crumbles down in a corner. With Sendō's second title defence win, he walks over to the downed Shigeta and, due to Shigeta's earlier remark, proclaims that that is what he's got. Kamogawa tells Ippo that Sendō broke him, and that Shigeta's trainer's actions destroyed him.
During an interview in the ring, Sendō announces to his fans that he will be fighting Ippo in a rematch in the Kōrakuen Hall, claiming that it will make up for his performance of his second title defence match. He then hands Ippo the mic. After much aggression from Sendō's fans, Ippo tells everyone that he wishes to spend his twenty-third birthday in a good mood by winning the title match which is close to his birthday, gaining respect from the crowd. Before leaving the stadium, Kamogawa decides to visit Shigeta's room with Ippo to check on him. While Shigeta's trainer regrets not stopping the match sooner, Shigeta hopes to do better next time. As Ippo and Kamogawa walks away from the stadium, Ippo believed Shigeta to be in better condition than he thought, however Kamogawa notes Shigeta's reaction to his trainer's hand coming towards him was a sign of Punch Eye. Kamogawa warns Ippo of Sendō's ability to implant fear into his opponent, becoming a monstrous champion. Kamogawa claims that Ippo has also changed after his first time he fought Sendō and went to the training camp, urging him to prepare for his title match in November.
Ippo's Dojo Duels
While thinking how Sendō sealed his Dempsey Roll, Ippo gets a phone call from Kumi, who wanted to ask him something. Kumi gets interrupted and has to leave the phone, but before the call ended, Ippo asks her to go somewhere with him, which she agrees to. Umezawa and Hiroko who were eavesdropping gives Ippo a dating magazine with dating spot suggestions. Ippo decides to go to the Shimono Zoo with Kumi. While seeing the animals and comparing some with people they know, Ippo stops by a tiger, who he compares to Sendō, before getting urinated on by the animal. After getting a change of clothes, Kumi guesses that Ippo was thinking about boxing then. Ippo apologises, but Kumi admits she can not try to stop a boxer to not think about boxing. Kumi then apologises for leaving an "idiot" sign outside the gym, as she left it there because Ippo gave his autograph to another girl besides her despite their earlier conversation. To make up for it, Ippo promises that the first autograph he gives as the JBC featherweight champion, will be to her.
Later, Ippo goes to the Yamaguchi Chiropractic and, in order for his previously hurt fist to not get hurt again, Yamaguchi prepares to give him a massage. When Ippo undresses, she notices his back muscles got bigger. She notes that while he is strengthening his muscles, strengthening his bone is a more complex process, with greater power leading to greater risks of injuring his fist again. To prevent this, she gives him a shock absorption rubber to put in his bandages. As instructed by Kamogawa, for five days, Ippo goes to different gyms to spar against opponents from different weight classes. Ippo successfully knocks out a junior lightweight, junior featherweight, lightweight, featherweight, and a welterweight. Ippo goes back to the Kamogawa gym where Aoki ends Ippo's knockout streak. Fujii then enters the gym, commenting on Ippo's recent spar sessions and mentions that Īmura Mari went to Osaka for research.
Sendō's Dempsey Roll Counter
Mari arrives to the Sendō Shop in Osaka and notices that Sendō is not home. She instead speaks with Sendō's grandmother, who expresses her distaste of titling her grandson as a champion. The grandmother explains to Mari how Sendō's father had to raise him by himself after Sendō's mother passed away. When Sendō was five, his father passed away while saving a child Sendō's age in a fire as a firefighter. Sendō's grandmother then told Sendō to become kind like his father and protect others. Sendō did just that and made friends. One day, Sendō got beat up in school after helping two kids who were getting picked on. He then beat the bullies, vowing to become stronger to protect everyone. Sendō became stronger as he got older and, by high school, he became a leader of a group of other high school students to protect others. In the present, Sendō came back to his home. Manabu then reveals to Mari that Sendō has been doing secret training, showing Mari Sendō's ankle weights. She then tries them on and is surprised how heavy they are. Sendō explains how he wore them after losing to Ippo and felt no different until he fought Shigeta where he finally understood the dashing power and the difference in punching quality of his and Ippo's punches, which he feels that he now has Ippo's punches. Sendō then offers to take Mari to his gym to show her good story material.
At the Naniwa Boxing Club, Sendō begins a sparring session with three boxers from higher weight classes consecutively. Mari becomes shocked when she hears Yanaoka claim that they have no tactics against the Dempsey Roll. Curious as to why Sendō would ignore the Dempsey Roll, she watches as Sendō spars without the ankle weights. After Mari witnessed Sendō's new speed and how he corners his opponent quickly, Yanaoka tells her that he thanks Ippo and Volg for teaching them how brawl boxing is limited. Yanaoka figured that the key of Sendō's evolution would be weight shifting, so he had Sendō run and train his lower body. Mari concluded that using the Dempsey Roll on the champion would be impossible. Later that night while walking away from the gym, Mari asks the confident Sendō if he is even scared about the match. He admits that he is afraid of losing to Ippo's terrifying fists, but at the same time, each of his punches leaves him feeling better, and when he lost against Ippo, it was the greatest feeling, salivating over the thought of continuing the feeling that only Ippo can give him. As Sendō leaves when he hears firetruck sirens, he tells Mari to tell Ippo that what is at stake isn't the belt, but the pride as men, and that he will the one standing at the end.
Lallapallooza - JBC Featherweight Title Match - Sendō Takeshi VS. Makunouchi Ippo
With a month left before Ippo's match against Sendō, the tickets become sold out. Mari returns to Tokyo and visits Ippo at the Kamogawa gym and asks for his opinion on her magazine article about his and Sendō's match. Ippo describes the article section about Sendō's spar as if he was watching it and notes Sendō's widened stance would make it hard to push him back and feels that he won't be able to use his Dempsey Roll. Ippo then expresses how instead of going into the match thinking of it as a title match, he believes that they are not fighting over a belt, shocking Mari. As Ippo continues his training, Mari tells Fujii how both Ippo and Sendō said the same thing differently about not fighting over a belt, confused about their bond. Fujii comments that the only ones who understand their bonds are the two boxers. Fujii and Mari then discuss their predictions for the fight, predicting that it will be at even odds and end with a knockout. At the Makunouchi Fishing Boat, Ippo gives a ticket to Umezawa and plans to give two to Kumi and one to Nekota along with a letter. Umezawa wonders why Ippo is so calm before the match. Hiroko, however, believes that her son may not be as calm as he appears to be. Her assumption turns out to be true as she witnesses Ippo unable to sleep in his room as his heart will not stop racing in anticipation for the fight.
The day before the match, Ippo arrives at the Kōrakuen Hall and meets Sendō in the weigh-in room. Ippo is surprised at the champion's relaxed nature and both boxers were amazed of each other's muscle build as they partake in the weigh-in. After the two passed the check, Ippo runs into Sendō again while trying to leave the hall. Sendō expresses his praise of Kōrakuen Hall while noting how he has not fought at the hall before. While Ippo mentions how calm Sendō is, Sendō explains that he is in fact not calm, as his body is shaking in anticipation, and he thought it has been too long since they met as boxers. They then shake hands while making a statement how they will win against each other. The next day, as the match is about to start, Umezawa gets out-cheered by Sendō's cheering squad. Nekota, Kumi, and Mashiba arrive as well, with the latter refusing to cheer for Ippo. In Sendō's waiting room, Sendō's hands begin to shake in excitement as he tells himself to calm down as he waits to continue where they left off from the All Japan Rookie King Tournament. In Ippo's waiting room, after Ippo warmed himself up by punching Kamogawa's mitts, he gets encouragement from Nekota. As the audience goes to the seating area, Kimura notices Kumi in the group. Mashiba then knocks into Kimura, who gets angry when Mashiba claims to not know him, as he does not know any of his weight class's rankers despite being champion. Aoki and Kumi then breaks Kimura and Mashiba apart before their argument escalates any further. After Kamogawa reminds Ippo that their previous fight was a fight between Rookie Kings, and now it is to box as a challenger against a champion, Ippo leaves for the ring. When both fighters enter the ring, they are unable to remain calm. The gong then sounds for the title match.
Immediately after the signal to begin the first round was given, Ippo dashes towards the unsuspecting champion and gets into his Dempsey Roll motion. After failing to hit Ippo during the motion, Sendō can only block the punches coming from both sides. Once Ippo breaks Sendō's guard, Ippo hits Sendō's face and causes him to go down. Sendō gets up after acknowledging Ippo and his Dempsey Roll's power. Ippo sends out another Dempsey Roll which almost downs Sendō again, however he hangs onto the ropes. Ippo then blocks Sendō's right. Despite Ippo's block, the right causes Ippo's nose to spurt blood. As Ippo begins the Dempsey Roll motion, Sendō dashes and stops Ippo's Dempsey Roll by hitting him with a left. The two then enter an even in-fight brawl at the centre of the ring until the referee separates them as the round ends. At the corner, Sendō notes of Ippo's growth from the last time they fought, but is confident that he will be the last one standing. Ippo realises that if he guards too often and not exchange blows, he will lose.
The second round begins, with Ippo and Sendō continuing their in-fight brawl as the cheering fans stomp their feet, causing the hall to shake. The even hitting match at the centre of the ring ends as Ippo begins to get pushed back. Ippo then gets worried as Sendō appears bigger to him than before. Kamogawa explains to Yagi how both boxers can be the same weight at the weigh-in, however a boxer can gain weight before getting into the ring, appearing larger, believing that Sendō may be pass the featherweight limit. Overwhelmed by the pressure, Ippo is beaten into a corner by Sendō, who implants fear into the challenger until the second round ends. At the corner, Ippo is instructed to attack instead of defending and to take the initiative. Sendō notices that the next round is the third round, recalling that he lost in the third round the last time he fought Ippo, now wishing to return the favour.
In the third round, Ippo attempts to attack after barely dodging the champion's punches, but he gets pressured into blocking instead. Ippo then gets confused as he sees Sendō using the Sakki, eventually cornering himself. After getting hit at the corner, Ippo barely dodges an attack and slips. As he falls, he feels as if the match is over until he realises that he has not done everything he could do. Ippo regains his footing and, as Sendō is launching his left Smash, Ippo uses Sakki, causing Sendō to cancel his Smash and step back. The third round then ends. As Yanaoka assumes Sendō went soft on Ippo, Sendō believes that Ippo has something waiting for him and that he is not done yet. While Ippo is in a daze trying to think of what he practised, Hachi barks from the crowd. This causes Ippo to remember his training at the Pension Yoshio for the Sakki. He then gets ready to continue the fight with a look of courage and confidence that he will show everyone what he learned.
In the fourth round, Sendō tries to stop an advancing Ippo with a Smash, however Ippo knocks his hand away, stopping it. Ippo then begins weaving to dodge feints and real punches. Ippo and Sendō begin an in-fight exchange until Ippo pushes Sendō back with a right. Sendō then sends out a right Smash that goes through Ippo's weak guard due to Ippo anticipating a left Smash. Sendō rushes Ippo into a corner by throwing punches at his block. Believing to have won the fight, Sendō sends out a big left, however, Ippo hits Sendō with a Gazelle Punch as Sendō was throwing his left, causing Sendō to go down. Sendō gets up at the count of nine after he could barely move his legs to stand up. Ippo dashes towards Sendō and gets ready to motion his Dempsey Roll, however his knees drop, preventing him from using it. The gong then sounds to end the round as Sendō was about to land a punch. While Aoki and Kimura believe that Ippo will win in the next round due to his damage, Takamura reminds them how damaged Ippo is. Takamura notes that while Ippo hasn't taken a down yet, the accumulated damage will pile up until his body stops working. In the corner, Sendō wishes to prove to Yanaoka that he is Japan's greatest just as Yanaoka kept his past promise with him. After Kamogawa gives Ippo encouragement, he gets ready for round five.
When the fifth round begins, Ippo quickly gets Sendō into a corner until Ippo gets hit by a counter. The two then switch positions as Sendō gets away from the corner and puts Ippo into one. Yanaoka then reminisces his meeting with Sendō where he found him beating his students in the street. Sendō would later join the gym and train under Yanaoka so he could take him to the Japan's strongest man to prove he is Japan's greatest. Back in the present, getting pushed back with his face bloodied, Sendō launches an attack at a charging Ippo, hitting him with a Cross Counter. The dangerous hit makes a worried Takamura yell at Ippo from the crowd to finish Sendō before it is too late.
After Ippo gets pushed into a corner and a short exchange occurs, Ippo falls down. The confused Ippo gets back up, and, when the match continues, Sendō quickly goes towards Ippo. Ippo attacks first, however Ippo is hit by a right straight, causing Ippo to go down a second time. Sendō raises his fists at the neutral corner in a victory pose. Yagi compares the way Ippo just fell as when he fell during his match against Date as Kamogawa gets ready to throw the towel. In a daze, Ippo does not want to think about getting the belt anymore and believes that closing his eyes and going to sleep would be easier. Ippo then goes back to his senses and gets back up, not wanting to repeat what happened when he lost to Date. Surprised and angered that Ippo is the first one to get up after taking his punches, Sendō dashes and beats Ippo at the corner. When Sendō prepares to send out a Smash, Ippo sees an opening and hits Sendō with a liver blow, cracking two of his ribs. Sendō continues his onslaught on Ippo at the corner with Ippo landing the liver two more times, further cracking Sendō's ribs until the fifth round ends. In the corner, Sendō believes that their duel won't end until one of them stops breathing. Ippo asks Kamogawa what it means to be strong. Kamogawa instructs Ippo to defeat Sendō to get his answer.
On the sixth round, Ippo and Sendō quickly get into an in-fight exchange. Fujii tells Mari that their match is a mix-up, where they are continuously surpassing their own limits with each punch, getting stronger throughout the match and evolving through their exchanges. Seeing their boxers evolving, Yanaoka and Kamogawa become reluctant to throw their towels. Both boxers recall their past, with Sendō wanting to know the meaning behind being strong, and Ippo wanting to know what it means to be strong. The two acknowledge that their answer is right in front of them. Their exchange then ends after the gong sounds ending the sixth round. Both boxers remain standing at their corners with both of them thinking that the next round is the end as they don't have much energy left and plan on using only big punches.
When the seventh round begins, Sendō immediately uses the Cross-Arm Block, making Ippo step back. When Sendō gets closer to Ippo, Ippo motions for the Dempsey Roll, however Sendō pushes into Ippo mid-motion, stopping the Dempsey Roll. Sendō and Ippo hit each other at the same time with Sendō landing a clean hit on Ippo with a left Smash and Ippo landing a liver blow, further breaking Sendō's ribs. The two step back from the damage. Ippo recovers first and lands a right straight. Ippo then dodges a right Smash and lands another liver blow on Sendō. Sendō attempts to block a follow-up punch, however it was Ippo's Sakki. Ippo then lands a Gazelle Punch, breaking Sendō's guard. Ippo the launches a Dempsey Roll, hitting Sendō until he goes down. Sendō barely manages to get up at the count of six. As the referee continues to count, Sendō, unable to take a fighting pose, wishes to only look at the face of Ippo, the man who that beat him. Sendō then falls over on the referee's shoulder at the count of ten, resulting in Sendō losing his title and Ippo becoming the JBC featherweight champion.
With Ippo still not understanding the situation, Kamogawa directs Ippo's attention to Sendō. Sendō requests to see Ippo looking more prideful of defeating him. After Ippo thanks Sendō, Sendō wishes to meet him in the ring again for a third rematch. As Sendō walks away from the ring with his head held high, Ippo receives his JBC featherweight belt and raises his arms in joy as he becomes the champion. The camera crew then asks the champion for a pose. When Ippo poses, Hachi appears in the ring and poses with him as the picture gets taken.
After Kamogawa gets rid of reporters in Ippo's changing room, Kamogawa instructs Ippo to not celebrate despite the doctor's reports of Ippo being in good condition and to go home and rest. Before Ippo leaves with his gym mates to take him home, Kamogawa tells him "very well done." Fujii and Mari wonders if Sendō may retire after getting defeated by the same man twice, hurting his pride more than anything. In a train to Osaka, Sendō explains to Yanaoka how he is afraid of going into the other part of the train to urinate as his fans are in there and feels as if he broke his promise to them. Yanaoka tells Sendō to go back to his seat, however, when Yanoka walked to tell him that, he triggered the automatic door, revealing Sendō to the next car where his fans are. Sendō is then shocked to hear that his fans believe that the match was his best match and wants to see Sendō come back. Sendō announces to his fans that he will start over and come back. Sendō returns home and tells his grandmother that he is still weak. His grandmother then looks at a picture of Sendō's parents and thinks how Sendō came back stronger. When Takamura, Aoki, and Kimura goes to Ippo's home to see him, Hiroko informs them that Ippo fell asleep. When Hiroko claims that she can not imagine her son becoming Japan's best, Takamura guesses that Ippo doesn't either, but will slowly understand when he reads the magazines and looks at his champion's belt.
Two days later, Ippo wakes up, and becomes surprised to see his champion belt next to him and quickly realises that he won. After Umezawa shows him magazines about Ippo's win, he is informed to call Aoki as his gym mates are forming a celebration party. As Ippo goes to the phone, Hiroko congratulates him, and tells him to inform his father about the news. Ippo then arrives late to his party at the Sugar Ray. Ippo meets Kumi, who congratulates him. Yagi then gets Ippo onto the stage with his belt and introduces him to everyone and reveals that it is his 20th birthday. As a present, Nekota gives Ippo a dog from Hachi. As Ippo holds the dog, he defecates on Ippo's belt. After cleaning the belt, Ippo is requested to sing a song. Ippo chooses the "Champion" song, which causes his gym mates to throw things at him for being arrogant, making Ippo feel as if it is the greatest day of his life. After the party, Kamogawa informs Ippo that he broke two of Sendō's ribs, and that if that did not happen, Sendō could have been the one celebrating, admiring Sendō as a splendid rival. Kamogawa then asks if Ippo found his answer of what it means to be strong, however, Ippo claims to not have found the answer. As Ippo leaves with his gym mates, Kamogawa declares that what Ippo is searching for is neither a goal or thing, deducing that he is on a road far difficult than claiming any title.
- The "Strong Arm Showdown Arc" (豪腕対決編) name was taken from Best Bouts book Makunouchi Ippo VS. Sendō Takeshi II.