At the Monthly Boxing Fan, Fujii and Mari discuss the previous matches from the annual Champion Carnival, and that Takamura had recently defeated the second ranked in the world rankings, becoming the second in the world for the junior middleweight class. The magazine's opening article highlights the upcoming match between Date Eiji and WBA featherweight super champion Ricardo Martinez. At the Kamogawa gym, Ippo discovers the news and notices Ricardo's boxing record being perfect. Takamura sees Ippo not being optimistic about Date's chance of winning and tells him that Date is confident about winning. Ippo becomes more hopeful in Date's victory, and expresses his excitement that someone who defeated him may become the world champion. Kamogawa then informs Ippo that the super champion himself requested to spar with the JBC featherweight champion when he comes to Japan. After remembering he's the Japanese champion, Ippo accepts the request, wanting to find a hole in Ricardo to maybe help Date for his match and to see how far he can go with his current strength against the world champion.
At the Makunouchi Fishing Boat, Ippo discusses his upcoming spar to Umezawa, who tells Ippo that with Ricardo winning 62 matches, and Ippo winning 13 matches, it would be like fighting five Ippos' at once, with Ippo at least landing one hit out of five punches. Umezawa then wishes for Ippo to show the world's greatest what he can do. At an airport in Tokyo, Ricardo and his head trainer and manager Bill Stewart arrives from Mexico. While going to the Otowa gym for his sparring match against Ricardo, Ippo tells Kamogawa that he wishes to at least land one hit on the super champion. At the Otowa gym, Ricardo is unable to get into the mood as he effortlessly defeats his sparring partners. When Ippo arrives and his turn comes up, he undresses to his boxing match shorts as he wants the three round spar to feel like a real match, not using headgear either. Bill allows Ricardo to take the spar however he wants, instructing him to show the difference between their country and the world. With Kamogawa and the reporters having indescribable expectations, and Ippo feeling the immense pressure, the spar begins. Ippo starts with a feint and then attempts to use the liver blow, however, Ippo stops midway as Ricardo saw through the tactic.
Ippo gets into his Peek-a-Boo Style and throws a one-two, which Ricardo easily dodges the first hit and throws a jab that Ippo couldn't see coming. After repeatedly getting hit with Ricardo's motionless lefts, Ippo manages to get close to Ricardo by blocking some of his punches. In range, Ippo begins the Dempsey Roll motion. Before Ippo could even start to throw a punch, Ricardo effortlessly hits Ippo repeatedly with his lefts until the figure-eight motion stops and leaves the Japanese champion standing frozen in shock. Ricardo walks away and Bill explains to everyone that Ricardo does not want to destroy the Japanese champion's pride, merely just wanting to warm his lefts up. Kamogawa gets Ippo, who was unconscious, out of the ring and the two leave the Otowa gym with Ippo realising that the gap between him and the world is huge. While Bill was surprised that Japan has a boxer that can use the Dempsey Roll, he mentions to Ricardo that he has to remind Date again how high the world summit is. Back at his home, Hiroko is worried about Ippo's face, as it looks like he was in a brawl. Ippo checks his face and is shocked to how beaten it looks even though Ricardo only used his left.
When Ippo returns to the gym, he gets immediately kicked out by Takamura, who tells him to go see Date and talk to him about the spar. When Ippo arrives outside the Nakadai gym, he looks through the window and discovers that Date is sparring with Miyata. During the spar, Miyata is unable to keep up with the former Japanese champion, unable to land any lefts nor having any time to throw a counter. Miyata decides to get into a close-range combat with Date, however, Date outperforms him and ultimately sends Miyata down with a right before catching Miyata's fall and thanks him for the spar. With Ippo in shock that Miyata was easily beaten, Miyata walks outside and is embarrassed that the spar was seen by someone. The two then realises even though one is a Japanese champion and the other is an OPBF champion, they are still so far away and that the world is a big place.
Revenge - WBA Featherweight Title Match - Ricardo Martinez VS. Date Eiji
At the press conference for the WBA featherweight title match between super champion Ricardo and challenger Date, the latter thanks the champion for bringing the belt from Mexico to Japan for him, while Ricardo tells the reporters to not expect much from the challenger. The two then shake hands after a tense face off. After watching the press conference, Ippo receives a call from Takamura to go with him for roadwork. Ippo goes with Takamura to a park far from their usual roadwork path so that they can meet Date. When they meet Date, they join him in his roadwork to discuss the press conference and his upcoming match against Ricardo, with Date genuinely being thankful for Ricardo staying at the top of the world as Date's eternal rival after seven years, being able to box because of him. Date claims he wouldn't try to go against Ricardo if he knew he couldn't win, however, he notes Ricardo's lack of weakness and everything about him is at an inhuman level, agreeing with Takamura that what it takes to defeat Ricardo is just to be stronger. Date then leaves the two after expressing how he is not same as he used to be, just as Ricardo has evolved into a truly monstrous champion.
At his apartment, Date tells his wife to bring their son to the ring after his match so he can hold him high as the world champion. Aiko simply wants Date to come home safely, which Date recalls her saying the same thing when he left to fight Date in Mexico. Date deems Ricardo both a demon that took everything away from him and a god that lights his soul on fire as a boxer, wishing to fight and defeat Ricardo to become himself.
At the Ryōgoku Kokugikan on the day of the match, Okita Keigo fights in the semifinals and wins by knockout. The staff then shows on screens Ricardo's second WBA featherweight title defence against Date where Ricardo defeated Date and gave him the scar on his nose. Date's fourth JBC featherweight title defence against Ippo is then shown where Date defeated Ippo. Fujii approaches Ippo in the audience seats asking for him to go to Date's changing room per Date's request. Outside the changing room, Ippo meets Aiko and Yūji, claiming to the latter that Date will become the world champion. In the changing room, Date tells Ippo that he will be waiting for him at the top of the world. As Date leaves for the ring, Ippo wishes for Date to win so that he can be his eternal rival.
Date and Ricardo make their entrances to the ring and their national anthems are played. At the corner, Bill doesn't give Ricardo any strategies, simply asking him to show Japan the true magnificence of boxing. Nakadai instructs Date to not rush and to watch the champion closely, however, Date plans on giving a "loud greeting" to Ricardo after seven years. When the match begins, Date immediately throws a left that knocks Ricardo's guard away and a second left that cleanly hits Ricardo's face. Ricardo steps back and attempts to get into his rhythm with footwork before Date pushes into Ricardo to stop him and hits Ricardo's guard. After waiting under his guard, Ricardo goes behind Date between Date's punches, switching positions with Date at the ropes. Date negates a left from Ricardo by rolling the punch by spinning his neck and escapes the ropes. The two veteran boxers then have an exchange of only lefts where neither could land a hit on each other until they both hit their faces at the same time. The first round then ends. At the corner, Date assumes that Nakadai is nervous about the next round, as the second round was where Date lost against the same man, however, Date plans on erasing that shadow as he is not the same as before. Bill acknowledges how Date has levelled up from the last time they fought, however, Ricardo claims that he has done the same, intending to end it in the second round.
In the second round, after dodging Date's left, Ricardo throws his first right in the match which misses and cuts air. Ricardo then pressures Date back to the ropes and hits him with a left to the face, however, Date spins his neck to negate the damage. Date attempts to escape from the ropes but Ricardo predicts where he is escaping from and forces Date to the corner and begins hitting his guard with body blows. Date realises that Ricardo wants Date to lower his guard and attack him so that Ricardo can hit his face. Date lowers his guard and prepares a counter for Ricardo's incoming punch, however, Ricardo predicted Date's prediction and counter's Date's counter with a body blow, making Date kneel. To Ricardo's surprise, Date remains standing and fights back with a one-two. After repeatedly getting hit by Ricardo's strong combinations, Date still fights back, making Ricardo assume that Date has fought someone with punches equal to his own. The second round then ends with Date being relieved that he surpassed his old self by surviving the round where he previously fell, only needing now to surpass the world champion. Ricardo admits to Bill that he had taken Date lightly, and that he has grew tired of living to protect the belt, thinking that it is time to return to what he once was.
In the third round, Ricardo charges and attacks Date, hitting him in the face and begins striking Date's guard with rough punches with unpredictable timing, making Date unable to do anything but guard. Takamura deems Ricardo's newfound style as his true face, with Bill noting how it is Ricardo's old style of savageness, a perfect combination of science and violence. Date stops blocking and attempts to hit Ricardo, however, Ricardo quickly stops Date's advance with a punch. Ricardo continues to violently beat Date up to round eight. In the corner before round nine, Nakadai threatens to use the towel if he sees that there won't be a next time for Date when he discovers that two or three of his ribs are fractured. Date does not want him to as he believes the real fight will begin and he take the world. Ricardo is surprised Date is still able to fight after receiving many of his punches, thinking that what is holding him is not dreams or revenge, as he defeated many boxers who had the same reasons. Ippo and Takamura realises that Date has been aiming at attacks to the head throughout the match to make Ricardo guard his head so that he won't expect Date's unique body blow technique, the Heart Break Shot in a later round.
In round nine, Ricardo continues his merciless attacks, successfully hitting multiple times. Date spins his neck to nullify one of Ricardo's punches to get out of the corner and switches positions. With Ricardo at the ropes, Date throws a left to test the distance and then throws his Heart Break Shot. However, Ricardo blocks the punch with the Elbow Block, breaking Date's right fist. Ricardo then strikes back at Date, who acknowledges that his jaw, parts of his ribs and right hand are broken, wondering if no matter how many times he fights the super champion, he will never win. The ninth round then ends. While Nakadai tells Date that he has done enough, Aiko approaches the ringside and gives Date's mouthpiece that was flung outside the ring during the ninth round to be washed. Aiko promises to watch the remaining three rounds to the end, encouraging him to continue on. Bill is in disbelief that Date's corner wishes to continue the match. Ricardo replies that as long as he stands, there is a possibility of a miracle and that he must lower that possibility to zero, even if Date becomes an unfortunate accident.
In round ten, Ricardo easily dodges Date's lefts, knowing that Date's right hand is broken. Preparing to counter one of Date's lefts, he becomes surprised when Date pulls back a left and gets hit with a right. Date remembers the reason why he is fighting: to show Aiko how cool he is. Ricardo continues attacking Date and feels with his fist Date's bones in his jaw shifting, worried that Date may become an unfortunate accident. Date then manages to successfully land a Heart Break Shot on Ricardo. With Ricardo frozen, Date launches a left hook, however, as Date's Heart Break Shot was not strong enough, Ricardo unfreezes and dodges the hook. As Ricardo plans on remembering Date's name as the fighter he respects most and a samurai from Japan, he lands a Corkscrew Blow on Date, knocking him down. The referee quickly ends the match, resulting in Date's loss and Ricardo's 18th WBA featherweight title defence win. Date is taken to the hospital in a stretcher.
Later at the Kamogawa gym, Fujii reveals that Date is awake with no brain damage and that he is able to speak in short durations. Takamura advises for Ippo to go see him, claiming that there is a meaning to it. At the General Hospital, Aiko cries as she believes she can finally say "welcome home" to Date as he is back to his former self. When Ippo enters the room, Date calls for Ippo to take Date's hand. Date places his hand onto Ippo's as a baton pass. Before leaving the room, Yūji asks Ippo if he will fight Ricardo in revenge for Date. Ippo apologises as he explains that he can not, as Ricardo is too strong, not as he is now. Yūji dismisses Ippo as a coward, however, Aiko mentions that Ippo said not as he is now.
- The "WBA World Featherweight Title Match Arc" (ＷＢＡ世界フェザー級タイトルマッチ編), name was taken from Best Bouts book Ricardo Martinez VS. Date Eiji.
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