The Rookie King Tournament: First Rounder Arc is the third story arc in the series and the third in the Rookie King Saga. This arc follows the protagonist Makunouchi Ippo as he partakes in the East Japan Rookie King Tournament during the first rounds.
Sometime later, Ippo's second opponent is announced to be Maeda Boxing Gym's Fujiwara Yoshio. The match starts, Fujiwara used many headbutts during the match, even downing Ippo once. However, while Fujiwara was better than Ippo in mid-range, Ippo overcame him close-range, Ippo wins the match with an uppercut. At school, Umezawa introduces Ippo to his friends, confusing Ippo in the process, but is glad Umezawa considers him his friend.
Round One - Ippo vs. Ozuma
After sparring with Aoki and Kimura, Ippo celebrates his first year at the Kamogawa Boxing Gym at Chūka Soba. Next day, at the gym, Yagi announced the East Japan Rookie King Tournament schedule, with Ippo's first opponent to be Jason Ozuma. With everyone at the gym saying Ozuma is powerful, they think of a strategy to go against him. Meanwhile, at the Hachinohe Boxing Club, Ozuma's coach praised him as he defeats his sparring partner, he then helped his trainer's wife with the sandbags. After the support from his coach and the gym mates, Ozuma left for Tokyo. When he arrived at the Nerima Boxing Group, Ozuma sparred with Ōta Hiroyuki, who got defeated with a hook that sends him to the hospital. After hearing this news, Kamogawa had Ippo training to dodge hooks, with Takamura as his training partner. After nine days of not being able to dodge them, Ippo successfully dodged Takamura's hook.
At the day of the match, Ippo and Ozuma met at the weigh-in, much to Ippo's surprise, Ozuma was a nice man. At his home, Ippo tried to get his mother to watch him fight, however, she refused as doesn't want to watch her son get hurt. With the match about to start, both fighters entered the ring, when the gong sounds, both fighters charged towards each other. Both fighters don't land a hit for awhile, until Ozuma lands a left that caused Ippo to go down. When the first round ended, Kamogawa tells Ippo to not show pain in the next round. In the second round, Ozuma manages to knock Ippo down again, before Ozuma gets knocked down by a body blow. During the second round, Ozuma threw a right hook, Ippo then ducked and threw a body blow that stunned Ozuma. Ippo then threw a series of punches that knocks Ozuma out, with him unable to get up, Ippo wins the match. Ozuma then tells Ippo to get the Rookie King title.
Quarter-Finals and The JBC Middleweight Championship - Miyata vs. Takada/Ippo vs. Kobashi/Takamura vs. Yajima
One week later, Ippo goes to Kōrakuen Hall to watch Miyata's match against Takada Teruhiko. There, as he sits down, he meets a girl who drops a ticket in front of him. Miyata and Takada then enter the ring, the second round of the Rookie Tournament begins. Miyata wins in the first round with a counter. As he is going home, Ippo stops by the Yamanaka Bakery and finds the girl he saw at Kōrakuen Hall working there. At the gym, Fujii announces that Mashiba had passed the second round. He then gives Ippo tapes of his second opponent in the tournament, Kobashi Kenta. The Kamogawa group then watches Kobashi's match against Yoshida Mitsuo and Hayami Ryūichi's match against Iwakawa Seike on tape. They come to a conclusion that Ippo now has two obstacles in his way towards Miyata.
When Ippo gets home, he receives a call from Takamura, telling him that his title match is scheduled and to get ready for training camp at the beach for a week. During the training camp everyone trained by running in the sand, spars, shadowboxing. Ippo trained his feet by catching tennis balls. The last night of the training camp, the Kamogawa group fires fireworks. After hearing Ippo being amazed at Takamura having a chance at the Japanese champion title, Takamura states that national title is just a mere stepping stone, as his real goal is the world. As Aoki and Kimura puts their hopes on getting a belt, Ippo hopes to win the Rookie King title.
Everyone returns from training camp, Yagi shows the group a poster that has Takamura facing off against the Japanese middleweight champion, with Ippo facing off against Kobashi before Takamura's match. After sparring, Ippo goes outside the gym and notices someone watching him through the window. The guy drops his notebook while running away, Ippo picks it up and gives it to him, it's at this moment Ippo realises that the guy is Kobashi. Ippo becomes shocked when he hears Kobashi state that boxing isn't just about an outstanding punch or eye-catching technique. At the Ōtaki Boxing Gym, Kobashi's sparring partner becomes irritated of Kobashi's clinching and not throwing KO punches. His coach, Yasuda, gives him mitt practice and tells him that boxing isn't just about punches and KOs. When Yasuda asks Kobashi if he thinks he can beat Ippo, Kobashi believes he can, but will be difficult.
The day for Ippo and Takamura's matches arrives, Kobashi notices he's not shaking like he usually does when he thinks of Ippo. Ippo and Kobashi walks up to the ring and the match begins. Kobashi is able to keep Ippo away by avoiding and blocking his punches. Ippo tries to close-in on Kobashi, however he is clinched. Ippo continues to be unable to get a clean hit in and begins to get exhausted. In the fourth and last round, Kobashi feels confidence in his power and begins to go on the offence. As Kobashi is more offensive now, Ippo sees an opening and lands a clean hit on Kobashi, causing him to go down. With Kobashi unable to continue, Ippo wins the match. After hearing Kobashi wishing he stuck to the defensive plan, Yasuda tells him that the one-two he did was good and that he wants to see that dream.
The main event starts with Takamura and the middleweight Japanese champion Yajima Yoshiaki entering the ring. Takamura goes on the offence until he is hit by a counter, causing him to go down. The champion attempts to hit Takamura, however, Takamura throws a jaw-shattering uppercut and continues to pummel the champion until he goes down. Yajima is unable to get up, and Takamura is crowned as the new JBC middleweight champion. After Ippo walks with Takamura to his house, Takamura wishes for Ippo to get the Rookie Title.
|Rookie King Tournament: First Rounder Arc|