For Makunouchi Ippo's fourth JBC featherweight title defence, the "Ryukyu Warrior" challenger, Shimabukuro Iwao claims to have a way to destroy Ippo's Dempsey Roll and wishes to prove he is a true son of the sea as Ippo is also one as well.
Itagaki's Comeback Match and The Itagaki Household
At the Kōrakuen Hall, Itagaki wins his comeback match against Baraki Haseo by a round one knockout and as a celebration, invites Ippo to his house for dinner where his family is holding the celebration. Upon arrival, Ippo is surprised to see Itagaki's home being worse than his, which Itagaki mentions that he quit college for boxing and hoped to earn money with his fists. Ippo meets Itagaki's sister, Nanako, who is a fan of Ippo like her brother, and meets Itagaki's father and mother. The entire Itagaki family tells bad puns throughout the course of the meal. Afterwards, Ippo tells Aoki and Kimura, which Takamura overhears the conversation. Not wanting to lose in anything, decides to challenge the father in an exchange of bad puns. Takamura however, reports back to the Kamogawa gym and reveals that he had lost.
The Reason A Promise Was Turned Down
The next morning Ippo is being interviewed by reporters about his future, however, Ippo bores the reporters with no noteworthy answers. Yagi announces their upcoming matches as the year's Champion Carnival approaches. He announces Takamura's first WBC junior middleweight title defence, Aoki's JBC lightweight title match, the first round of Itagaki's East Japan Rookie King Tournament match, and Ippo's fourth HBC featherweight title defence. Aoki, thinking he misheard, gets confirmed by Yagi that despite Aoki being ranked fifth recently, he went up to the first ranking after something happening to the first to fourth rankers, as if Aoki put a curse on them. Everyone becomes fired up for their matches and they begin to train.
Later that day, Ippo after having finished training, leaves the gym and while wondering what his goal is, comes across Miyata. With rage, Miyata grabs Ippo by the collar and demands an answer as to why Ippo has been ignoring his match requests, assuming that Ippo thinks the OPBF title is not good enough and that the gap is still wide. Ippo pushes Miyata in confusion and, after hearing that Miyata issued an offer request to the gym many times and got ignored, Ippo's shocked reaction makes Miyata realise that Ippo did not know either. Wanting to know that reason Kamogawa did not tell Ippo about this, Ippo enters the Kamogawa gym and demands an answer, not wanting to run away from his goal. Kamogawa answers that while him and Miyata has gotten stronger because of their rivalry, Miyata reversed the gap between them by a big amount, comparing their individual abilities and weapons to be in Miyata's favour. When Ippo argues that he wants to fight Miyata not fearing the outcome and not caring if he loses the Japanese title, Yagi suggests to get strong enough to satisfy Kamogawa. Ippo doubts that he can continue winning and that now would be the best time to fight Miyata in his best shape. Kamogawa, disappointed that Ippo believes that he is at his peak, smacks Ippo's face and deems a fight with Miyata to be a dream within a dream. Ippo leaves, wanting Kamogawa to promise him that when he gets stronger, to allow him to fight Miyata.
Kamogawa mentions to Yagi that he knows by experience that having a rival is something special, which is why he could not tell him that the Dempsey Roll he worked hard on is his fatal weakness against Miyata. Kamogawa also notes that every time Ippo defends his title, opponents will be seeking to stop the Dempsey Roll and will reveal more secrets of it, and if Ippo can overcome it, he will naturally meet with Miyata.
Ryūkyū Warrior from Okinawa - Shimabukuro Iwao
Ippo begins to seek out a way to polish his Dempsey Roll to be strong enough to beat anyone, theorising that he should increase the speed to make his opponents unable to get away. At his home, Umezawa shows Ippo a newspaper article of "Ryūkyū Warrior" Shimabukuro Iwao claiming that he will destroy the Dempsey Roll. In Okinawa, Fujii and Mari where they meet the coach of the Mensore Okinawa Seaside Gym and worryingly witnesses Shimabukuro staying underwater for thirteen minutes. With the reporters curious about the headline on the newspaper, it is revealed that the coach was the one who said that Shimabukuro would destroy the Dempsey Roll to get noticed nationally. Shimabukuro however, has no strategy, but with his strong neck, will take on the technique in an exchange of blows, making their match a battle of endurance. Reading the news article, Kamogawa predicts that if Ippo's Dempsey Roll were to be defeated, it would be a more serious loss than when he lost to Date Eiji, as the greatest blow to him is losing the thing he relies on.
Later, Kamogawa and Yago shows Ippo and the others a video of last year's Class A Tournament, consisting of Shimabukuro fighting and defeating Okita Keigo. It is revealed that Shimabukuro could take Okita's Corkscrew Blow and that his boxing is similar to Ippo's. Ippo discovers that Shimabukuro is the first opponent he will face that is shorter than him and the first where the opponent's best range is close-range. Aoki then watches a video of the lightweight JBC champion with Takamura, who, after watching, simply states that Aoki will lose. In Okinawa, Shimabukuro expresses his joy to his coach in fighting against a man who is, like him, a man of the sea.
A Challenge Sent to the Modern Boxing World
At the Kamogawa gym, Kamogawa reveals to Ippo that Shimabukuro lost in a match after his opponent avoided him for four rounds in the West Japan Rookie King Tournament. Ippo realises that he can not do what his opponent did, however, he believes step-in and hand speed to be the key to catch Shimabukuro. When Ippo showed Kamogawa a sped up Dempsey Roll, Kamogawa tells him to forget it, as the technique is light due to the increased speed taking place of power. While Kamogawa acknowledges the idea of increasing the speed, he tells Ippo that his greatest weapon is power, advising Ippo to prepare himself for training to increase the Dempsey Roll's speed and power. That night, Kamogawa discusses the Dempsey Roll with Yagi about the technique's strengthening will also strengthen it's weakness to counters and that after acquiring the Dempsey Roll, Ippo had decreased his usage of jabs, as if he is going against the current boxing world. Kamogawa wishes to have Ippo continue walking a reverse path and believes that they are sending a challenge to the modern boxing world. At the Kawahara gym, Miyata speaks to his father about the Dempsey Roll's weakness to his counter, expecting that Ippo will change the Dempsey Roll. Starting the next day, Kamogawa has Ippo undergo basic training to increase the Dempsey Roll's power, with Takamura noticing that Ippo is not acting like a champion, but a challenger.
Ippo's training earns him a swollen big toe that makes him have to wear bigger shoes. After completing an intense training menu. Ippo spars with Aoki and is unable to attack for the spar session. Kamogawa mentions to Takamura how he is concentrating on Ippo's blood to turn him into a pure-blooded in-fighter as he can't see him as anything but an in-fighter, deeming the match as not having the belt on the line, but to see who is the greatest in-fighter in the nation. Later, Shimabukuro goes to the Makunouchi Fishing Boat, where he meets Ippo and Umezawa. Shimabukuro requests to see the ocean with Ippo. They arrive to Tokyo Bay and Shimabukuro becomes disappointed of the quality of the ocean, claiming Ippo to not be a man of the sea. As Shimabukuro leaves depressed, he stops himself when Hiroko asks him if he wants dinner. Shimabukuro begins sniffing Hiroko and asks if she is a woman of the sea. Shimabukuro then regains a new respect for Ippo, deeming him a man of the sea and becomes pumped about their seaman battle. He then asks Ippo how long he can hold his breath underwater, as he will take Ippo to the bottom of the sea when they fight.
As both boxers train, Ippo gets instructed to not come by the gym for a while nor exercise for a week as his muscles are at his limits. After having trouble carrying the customers belongings at the fishing boat, Ippo goes to the swimming pool at the Swimming Club, where Kumi watches him in order to make sure he doesn't exercise as requested by Aoki. Itagaki and Nanako also arrives. with Nanako and Kumi having a heated conversation about a relationship with Ippo. Ippo continues going to the pool for a couple days, realising that he can stay underwater longer than he could before. After a week of rest, Ippo returns to the Kamogawa gym and begins to do mitt-training with Kamogawa. During the mitt-training session, Ippo knocks Kamogawa onto the canvas after hitting his mitt with a punch that emitted a sound that only he heard. Takamura drags Kamogawa to the office while Shinoda continues the mitt-training session. Kamogawa describes the pain in his hand to Takamura to come straight from the bone. Takamura notes to have only thrown that punch a handful of times, the punch that Kamogawa deems Ippo's "Ultimate Punch" that came from his recent training and something near impossible to repeat.
SUBMARINE WARS - JBC Featherweight Title Match - Makunouchi Ippo VS. Shimabukuro Iwao
Later, Umezawa notices that Ippo's face looks like that of a challenger's. Shimabukuro leaves Okinawa after his fans on boats wish him to be victorious and his parents sees him off as the two can not leave Okinawa to cheer for their son. When the weigh-in commences, the reporters were amazed about Shimabukuro muscled body. Ippo does his weight check, however, he accidentally strips too much and becomes completely nude, leaving reporters shocked at what Shimabukuro jokingly calls a "Python". While Shimabukuro admits Ippo beat him today, they shake hands as he states he will take the belt the next day. After the weigh-in, Shimabukuro hopes to not come back to Okinawa empty handed, wanting the JBC belt and another title that he bets his seaman pride on. Kamogawa praises Ippo for acting like a challenger and that the match will decide who is the greatest in-fighter in the nation. At the Kōrakuen Hall on the day of the match, Ippo calmly prepares himself unlike his usual shadowboxing or mitt-punching activity. Shimabukuro does a round worth of mitt-punching with his coach and plans on destroying the Dempsey Roll if Ippo were to use it at the start. Both boxers arrive to the ring and the match begins.
Ippo is in his Peek-a-Boo Style stance and quickly realises his usual tactic of pushing into his opponent's chest is sealed as Shimabukuro is shorter and has a lower stance than him. Ippo chooses to do what he hates being done to him and hits Shimabukuro with his reach advantage. Shimabukuro manages to get to Ippo's chest and they both failed an attempt to hit each other, however, their arms crossed and Shimabukuro lifts Ippo up off his feet with pure strength. Shimabukuro then pressures Ippo into a corner while dodging his left jabs. They have an in-fight at the corner and Ippo begins to have trouble due to the punches coming from below. Shimabukuro sends out a Gazelle Punch in amidst of the in-fight, blowing away Ippo's Cross-Arm Block. Ippo switches to only blocking until his block begins to weaken, deciding to push into Shimabukuro, shoving his head up to create an opening to punch. The two then enter a hitting match too close to dodge, shifting their weight enough to throw punches with power until the first round ends.
Ippo and Shimabukuro have a continuous close ranged hitting match up to the fifth round, going accordingly to Shimabukuro's plan as Ippo has difficulty breathing and his face turns purple from cyanosis. Ippo blocks his face, thinking Shimabukuro will aim to finish the match, however, Shimabukuro aims for Ippo's body. Ippo is hit many times by the body blows and unable to defend himself or catch his breath until the fifth round ends. Watching the match, Kimura realises that this is what Shimabukuro meant by the term "bottom of the sea". Shimabukuro informs his coach that Ippo is at the bottom of the sea, planning for him to be like a sunken ship in the next round. Thanks to his experience with cyanosis against Sanada Kazuki, Ippo take deep breaths and plans to gather enough strength to use the Dempsey Roll.
In the sixth round, Shimabukuro becomes shocked that Ippo still has strength left in his punches and light in his eyes after hitting Ippo with body blows. Ippo sets himself up to the distance required to use the Dempsey Roll. Doing the Dempsey Roll's motion, Ippo begins to hit Shimabukuro, however, he is hit as well in an exchange. Ippo and Shimabukuro continue exchanging punches, with Ippo using the Dempsey Roll, until the technique's motion stops and turns into a mere hook, resulting in Shimabukruo successfully defeating the Dempsey Roll. Ippo hangs onto the ropes in despair of having the Dempsey Roll beaten. Despite Ippo being open for attacks, Shimabukuro can not move at all due to the amount of damage he took to defeat the Dempsey Roll and his face is purple with cyanosis, making both boxers being at the bottom of the sea. When the sixth round ends, Kamogawa instructs for Ippo to take deep breaths gather his oxygen from his cells in order to last another three minutes. Shimabukuro recovers in time for the seventh round to begin. When both boxers get out of their corners, Shimabukuro gets confused when he sees Ippo smiling at him.
In the seventh round, Ippo, after throwing a weak punch, immediately gets pushed to the ropes and proceeds to guard against a barrage. Shimabukuro launches a Gazelle Punch in an attempt to break Ippo's guard, however, Ippo places right hand over his jaw to avoid a direct hit. Ippo, following Kamogawa's previous orders, holds his power back while using one-twos. Shimabukuro sends out another Gazelle Punch, this time with more power, which Ippo blocks with a Cross-Arm Block. Ippo attacks Shimabukuro while imagining himself hitting Kamogawa's mitts and blocking his punches. When ippo loses his balance from his own momentum, he gathers enough strength to throw another punch, which Shimabukuro decides to take as Ippo's punches have weakened, planning to counter afterwards. Ippo lands the punch and hears the same sound he heard at the gym when he knocked Kamogawa down while mitt-practising. Shimabukuro loses his balance from the seemingly weak punch. Shimabukuro regains his balance as Ippo motions his Dempsey Roll. Ippo uses the Dempsey Roll and exchanges blows with Shimabukuro until Ippo sends him down with a full-body Dempsey Roll blow. Laying on the canvas, Shimabukuro realises that the match was never a match between seamen, as Ippo is a pure boxer. While Shimabukuro took a fighting pose, he is unable to stand up before the count of ten, resulting in Ippo's victory, defending his JBC title a fourth time. After wearing his belt and doing a victory pose, Ippo passes out and is carried to the changing room by Kamogawa.
In the changing room, Takamura and Kamogawa recognises the punch that Ippo threw during mitt-practise was used during the match, which shook Shimabukuro to his core. Kamogawa claims it was near Ippo's Ultimate Punch. Ippo wakes up and wishes to thank his mother for telling him long ago that his father would imagine his opponent's face as a fish, which was why he smiled during the match. While walking to the shower room, Ippo comes across Shimabukuro, who plans to leave for Okinawa the next day and shakes his hand with Ippo. Shimabukuro then reveals that he is retiring to protect the reefs from the impending customers as summer is about to begin. Shimabukuro leaves after telling Ippo that he should live by the ring and if he ever goes to Okinawa, to give him a call for a swimming contest.
A Battle Between Women
Two days later, Umezawa shows Hiroko a newspaper article about Ippo's recent match, suggesting for her to go to one of his matches one day, however, Hiroko does not want to see her son get beat up. Nanako arrives outside and asks about ippo. She becomes worried after hearing that he is asleep and after Hiroko's permission, enters Ippo's room. Nanako replaces Ippo's wet towel over his head and attempts to kiss him before being interrupted by the presence of Kumi. They begin to argue until they are stopped by Mari entering the room. Mari, originally coming to interview Ippo about the match, inspects his room instead and finds an album containing pictures of Ippo as a student. Mari and Nanako looks through them while Kumi chooses not to, feeling as it is an invasion of one's privacy. Mari is surprised to see that Ippo went from the way he was as a student to a champion and mentions that changes like that is what pulls women in. With her motives question, Mari expresses how Ippo should be mere source material for her, however, she does not know if her subject should be the man or the boxer of Ippo. As the three begins arguing, Hiroko enters the room and offers tea. Hiroko mentions how she is not proud of his strength, but that he is a kind boy. While she becomes worried about him even practising, she could not bring herself to ask him to stop boxing as he is happy everyday. When Hiroko states that when Ippo sleeps after his matches, she would like to let him sleep as peacefully as she can, the three visitors leaves. When Ippo wakes up and asks Umezawa if someone came over. Umezawa informs that there was a fight that ended in a draw.
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