After announcing his retirement, the people around Makunouchi Ippo change. Imai Kyōsuke defends his JBC title, with an announcement that the one he wanted to fight all along was none other than Ippo himself among other fighters. Days later Shinoda Tomoyuki comes over to Ippo's home and requests Ippo to become a second for his gymmates Kimura Tatsuya, Aoki Masaru, and Itagaki Manabu; which he gladly accepts. Ippo also meets an old rival who has not retired yet despite losing so many times, Hayami Ryūichi, who he sees fighting in the ring as now known "The Legendary Junker". Ippo's life as a second begins, needing time to adapt, he starts to learn new things as he observes boxing from the corner's perspective, as he also searches for a student which by accident he comes across a similar scene like that of his from the past, someone getting bullied infront of his eyes, but things turn out to be different.
The Delinquent & The Talented Artist
While scouting for boxers, Ippo notices a group of delinquents picking on a boy. Seeing this, Ippo attempts to stop the delinquents, yanking one of the delinquents to the ground, telling them that it is unforgivable to pick on someone, remembering when he himself got picked on and Takamura saved him. Ippo does a dogeza, slamming his fists onto the ground, politely asking them to leave. As the delinquents are about to beat up Ippo, the delinquent on the ground gets a weird feeling about Ippo and tells the group to stop and leave. As the group leaves, the delinquent leader, Taihei, asks for Ippo's name before leaving.
As the group has left, Ippo asks the boy who was being picked on if he wants to try boxing, the boy responds by running. After Ippo catches up to him, the boy explains how he was always picked on at school and felt alone, wondering what would it be like if he disappeared. Ippo tells the boy why the bullies do what they do, which is to simply kill time. Ippo then takes the boy to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym, and tells him to draw a picture of Taihei to hit on the bag. When the boy is finished drawing, it surprises Ippo and the others at the gym and gets placed on the bag. The boy puts on the boxing gloves and punches the bag after being shown by Ippo. However, he doesn't punch with enough strength and runs away after being scared by the gym members.
Ippo then takes him to Umezawa's place and shows Umezawa the picture that was drawn at the gym. Umezawa immediately praises the boy's genius-level drawing skills. After discovering that Umezawa is a manga artist, the boy tells Umezawa that he is Teru Okazaki and wants to study with Umezawa to one day become a pro mangaka. Umezawa then accepts Teru as his disciple. After hearing Teru's thoughts of suicide and wanting something good to come, Ippo tells him that he is strong and that something good did come, as he met Umezawa.