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Wiki Ippo

Takuma Saeki (冴木卓麻, Saeki Takuma) is a retired featherweight professional boxer who was affiliated with the Kawai gym.

His most prominent matches were against Makunouchi Ippo in the Class A Tournament, Sendō Takeshi for his JBC featherweight title, and Itagaki Manabu in the Class A Tournament, where he retired after the match.

Background

Saeki was an Olympic representative that was considered a superior technician as an amateur boxer. It was theorised that Saeki would have won in Barcelona (where 1992 Olympics were held) if he entered.

He used to attend a sports university, in Tōyō Sport University, where he was part of their boxing club as an amateur boxer. While there, the club developed special equipment that only he could use. Saeki was never fond of the fact that one could achieve the same victory for touching someone with gloves as knocking them out completely. Soon after, Saeki left the team and turned to the pro ring where he climbed the ranks and eventually became known as Speed Star for his unmatched speed and flexibility in the ring.

History

Part I

Speed Star Arc

Date sparring against Saeki.

Saeki, ranked second in the JBC, entered the Class A Tournament and was scheduled to fight fifth ranker Makunouchi Ippo. Later, he sparred against the JBC champion Date Eiji. Saeki avoided every punch Date threw throughout the spar until it ended. Date expressed his annoyance towards the "speedy' types such as Saeki, who took Date's comment as a compliment. Saeki later visited the Tōyō Sport University and talked to his former captain of the boxing club about how he prefers professional boxing over amateur boxing. When the captain mentioned how he believed there is no thrill for Saeki if the punches never hit him due to his speed, Saeki pointed out that the thrill was still there, as his next opponent has the strongest fists in the nation.

On the day of his Class A Tournament match against Ippo, Saeki greeted Ippo in the weigh-in room. Knowing that Ippo took a break from the sport, Saeki wondered if he was ready and told him to give it his best against him.

Saeki fighting Ippo.

When the match began, Saeki kept his distance from Ippo, going in a clockwise motion around him while Ippo stood still and simply stared at Saeki, who began to get uncomfortable. Despite knowing what Ippo was doing, Saeki was unable to hold back, and advanced. Even though he blocked a punch, he was still sent back against the ropes. Realising Ippo's strength, Saeki advanced and delivered a quick right that stunned Ippo. Saeki began dodging Ippo's attempts to hit him multiple times. Saeki then was surprised to find himself in a corner. Having the upper hand, Ippo attempted a combination, but Saeki dodged all attacks and escaped the corner, leaving Ippo astonished. Despite having the advantage in position, Ippo was unable to land a single clean hit on Saeki, with the gong sounding after Saeki dodged a jab, ending the first round.

Ippo's right eye damaged from Saeki, creating a blind spot.

When the second round began, Saeki dodged Ippo's punches and got trapped in the corner again. In the corner, Ippo threw left jabs to force Saeki to the right so he could land a body blow on him. Saeki however, utilised the ropes and dodged. Saeki then began to use Flicker Jabs, hitting Ippo multiple time. The Flicker jabs caused Ippo's right eye to close due to swelling. Saeki then hid in Ippo's new blind spot and hit him with a straight as the gong rings to end the second round. When the third round began, Ippo attempted to get closer to Saeki to create a smaller blind spot, however Saeki opened the distance and got into Ippo's blind spot again, landing hits on Ippo's face multiple times. As Saeki was about land the finishing blow, Ippo fell forward, leaning on Saeki as the third round ends. In his corner, Saeki asked his coach if his rhythm was off. The coach informed Saeki that his rhythm had not been off at all since round one.

Ippo landing the final hit on Saeki.

When the fourth round began, Saeki moved into Ippo's blind side once again until Ippo threw a punch into his blind spot, making Saeki step back to avoid getting hit by "lucky" punches. After Saeki hit Ippo again from his blind spot, he made another attempt, however Ippo realised where he was coming from and landed a punch on Saeki's face and then a body blow, making Saeki go down. When the shocked Saeki stood back up, he got back into Ippo's blind spot only to be hit again and pushed out of Ippo's blind spot. Ippo then threw punches that get dodged. Saeki noticed that his body keeps freezing up. Ippo landed a punch to Saeki's face again and then an uppercut, knocking Saeki down. Saeki got back up immediately but he was clearly in no condition to fight as he fell on the referee, ultimately losing the match.

After the match, Saeki visited Ippo, asking how his position was figured out. Ippo responded that Saeki's precise rhythm was what helped him figure out the position, Saeki then reflected on the irony of his perfect rhythm being the reason he lost, and left the room.

Aoki and Kimura's Delinquent Youth Days Arc

Saeki had a title match against JBC champion Sendō Takeshi, where he was outclassed and lost one minute and seven seconds into the first round by knockout.

Part II

Red Lightning Arc

Saeki meeting Ippo at a pro test.

Saeki attended a pro test at the Kōrakuen Hall to watch his kōhai take the test, where he met Karasawa Takuzō, who was there to do the same. They met Ippo, and revealed to him that they would be entering the Class A Tournament to become ranked first in order to challenge for the JBC featherweight title, planning to challenge Ippo if he still has the title. They added how Fukui Kyōsuke will be in the tournament as well, noting that that is all there is for the notable names going into the tournament. When Ippo mentioned that Itagaki Manabu will be in it as well, they didn't know who he was. Itagaki, who came with Ippo to the venue, told them that they would be learning his name whether they wanted to or not. Saeki and Karasawa were intrigued, wanting to meet him again in the ring.

Second Coming of Death Arc

Saeki meeting Ippo and Kumi before Itagaki's match against Kaonar.

Saeki and Karasawa went to the Kōrakuen Hall to watch Itagaki's match against Kaonar Pachiyoso in order to see how Itagaki fights. Before going in the venue, they met Ippo and joked about Ippo bringing his girlfriend with him to watch the match. Saeki and Karasawa watched Itagaki defeat Kaonar by knockout in the second round. The two left after seeing Itagaki celebrate in the ring with an "Ace of A's" declaration.

Chronos Arc

Saeki watching Karasawa and Itagaki fight.

Saeki went to the Kōrakuen Hall to watch Karasawa's match in the Class A Tournament against Itagaki. Before the match began, he met up with Ippo and Sanada Kazuki, inviting the two to sit with him. Saeki, Sanada, and Ippo watched as Karasawa and Itagaki's match began. During the first round, Saeki wondered why Karasawa was able to hit Itagaki when he went for a counter since Karasawa should be slower even when he shifted up a gear when Itagaki did the same. Saeki learned from Sanada that Karasawa shifted down a gear to change the timing of his punches, making it difficult for Itagaki to time his counters. Saeki watched as Karasawa lost by knockout in the second round. Saeki left the venue after expressing that he was glad that Itagaki's hurt right fist did not hit Karasawa at the end as it could have shattered it, since he wanted to face Itagaki in his best condition.

Blind Step Arc

Saeki meets Date, Okita, Sendō, and Mashiba outside Ryōgoku Kokugikan.

When Saeki's Class A Tournament semi-finals match against Maezono Makoto arrived, he went to the Kōrakuen Hall. When the match began, Saeki defeated Maezono by knockout in the fifth round. Later, Saeki arrived to the Ryōgoku Kokugikan to watch Ippo fight in his eighth JBC featherweight title defence match against Kojima Hisato, who talked trash about his opponents, including Saeki. Outside the venue, Saeki came across Sendō, Date, Okita Keigo, and Mashiba Ryō. The five got into an argument until they were stopped by Mashiba Kumi, who screamed at them to stop. Saeki sat with Sendō, Date, and Okita as they cheered for ippo as he entered the ring. Saeki watched as Ippo won by a one punch knockout in the first round. Saeki complained that it was too simple for a Japanese title match since boxing is suppose to be about striking the opponent while dodging their punches. As the main event began, Saeki watched and jeered at Takamura in his fourth WBC middleweight title defence match against Peter Rabbitson, where it ended in Takamura winning by a one punch knock out in the final twelfth round.

Speed Zone Arc

Saeki ready to fight Takamura.

After watching Takamura and Ippo defeat Rabbitson and Kojima respectively, Saeki went to the Mayweather Bar with Date, Okita, Sendō, Mashiba, and Kumi to celebrate Takamura and Ippo's victory. When Sendō and Mashiba began to argue, Kumi and Saeki tried to calm them down as Date figured that the two are angry about Takamura's poor performance. As everyone agreed with Date, the group complained about Takamura for his performance and his panda outfit until they notice that Takamura was in the bar with them the entire time. Since Takamura heard everything they said, he acted like he was going to leave before proclaiming that he blocked the door so they couldn't leave. Date's further provocations sparked a bar fight between the group and Takamura, which ended in all five getting knocked out and Kumi having to put bandages on them.

Later, while working at the Koedo Sushi, he treated Karasawa with some sushi. Karasawa revealed to Saeki how he is entering the workforce and retiring from boxing, as he has lost to both an in-fighter and out-boxer. As Karasawa explained how fast Itagaki was and how Itagaki was someone that he wanted to be, Saeki felt insulted that he seems to view Itagaki as the iconic speed boxer. As Karasawa was about to leave, Saeki asked if Karasawa has any regrets, however, Karasawa did not answer with a regret of his own, but a wish that Itagaki could fight against Ippo. While watching Karasawa shadowbox, Saeki could feel his frustration and regret.

Saeki attacking Itagaki with Flicker Jabs.

Later, Saeki arrived to the Kōrakuen Hall for his Class A Tournament finals against Itagaki. When the match began, Saeki was able to keep up with Itagaki. Saeki and Itagaki attempted to hit each other, however, neither could land a hit even with Saeki's Flicker Jab and Itagaki's Hedgehog barrage. The two race each other around the ring while throwing punches until the first round ended, with neither landing a hit the whole round. Before walking to the corner, Saeki's right hand was hit by Itagaki to show that knew that Saeki hasn't thrown his right yet. At jos corner, Saeki remembered his conversation with Karasawa at the Koedo Sushi and wished to use his fists and feet to prove that he has a place in the world.

Saeki getting into Itagaki's blind spot after making his right eye swollen.

In the second round, after dodging each other punches, Saeki feinted a right, which tricked Itagaki into throwing a counter, creating an opening for Saeki to land a left, successfully hitting him from Itagaki's blind spot. Saeki proceeded to feint with both his left and his right, leaving Itagaki confused as to which punch will be real, letting him to be able to hit him multiple times. Due to Saeki targeting Itagaki's right eye, Itagaki became unable to see out of it as it has swollen shut. Saeki began using Itagaki's swollen right eye to his advantage, going outside of Itagaki's vision and hitting him with a full body left before the second round ends.

In the third round, seeing that Itagaki's right eye is still swollen, Saeki continued to go into his blind spot and hit him. All of a sudden, Saeki saw Itagaki use the Ali Shuffle, which made him irritated. Saeki's punches began to miss and, when he got Itagaki to a corner, he seemingly disappeared from his sight when he tried to attack him. As Itagaki used the Itagaki Shuffle, a full body feint to confuse Saeki with rapid random movements, Saeki was hit multiple times from different angles since he could not read him nor move his legs near the end of the round. The third round ended as Saeki and Itagaki land a hit on a each other in a dual exchange.

Saeki getting defeated.

In the fourth round, Itagaki started with the Itagaki Shuffle while Saeki put up his guard. After Saeki's guard was hit a few times, both boxers circle around the ring, and Saeki hit Itagaki with a left due to his lack of depth perception. Saeki put his high guard up, however, he was hit with two body blows before Itagaki retreated to use the Itagaki Shuffle again. Saeki's high guard was hit with a barrage of left and rights, with some landing through the small holes in the guard. When Saeki's guard broke, Saeki missed a one-two before getting every punch he threw afterwards countered until he blocks again. When Itagaki entered his shuffle and attempted to hit Saeki on his side, Saeki discovered him and landed a counter on Itagaki, as Saeki learned the angle and timing of Itagaki's attacks when he does the shuffle. Saeki and Itagaki enter a middle range exchange afterwards, with both even at first until Itagaki slowly began to dominate, ending the exchange with Saeki getting hit by a powerful right. Saeki began to throw a barrage of punches at Itagaki. His barrage was dodged, and Saeki was hit by Itagaki's own barrage of punches until he fell down. When Saeki got up, he was hit with a left as Saeki stumbled while trying to throw a punch, making him fall onto the referee. The referee saw that Saeki was unable to continue and ended the match, resulting in Saeki's loss.

Saeki meeting Itagaki at the Koedo Sushi.

While Saeki was working at the Koedo Sushi, Itagaki, Itagaki Nanako, Itagaki's father, and Itagaki's mother entered in order to celebrate Itagaki's victory over him. Itagaki tried to leave, however, his parents were already in the middle of eating. When Saeki expressed how he was thinking of getting serious about the sushi business, he noticed that Itagaki looked down, and insisted that he shouldn't look sad. Seeing Itagaki being kindhearted made him realise why Karasawa entrusted him with his dream, and wondered if Ippo can pull it off against Itagaki. As Itagaki decided to eat and complained that Saeki was moving too slow as the sushi belt was empty. Saeki got irritated and put extra wasabi in his sushi in attempt to give to Itagaki. However, Itagaki's father ate it instead and passed out from the spiciness.

Match History

Match History
# Result Record Date Opponent Location Time Type Notes
Retired
15 LOSS 12-3-0 1997-11 Japan.pngItagaki Manabu Tokyo, Japan 4(6), 1:28 TKO Class-A Tournament
Finals
14 WIN 12-2-0 1997-10 Japan.pngMaezono Makoto Tokyo, Japan 5(6) KO/TKO Class-A Tournament
Semi-Finals
? LOSS ?-2-0 1993-07 Japan.pngSendō Takeshi Osaka, Japan 1(10), 1:07 TKO JBC Featherweight Title Match
5 LOSS 4-1-0 1992-07 Japan.pngMakunouchi Ippo Tokyo, Japan 4(6), 2:12 TKO

Class A Tournament - First Round

4 WIN 4-0-0 199X Unknown Japan ?(4) Unknown
3 WIN 3-0-0 199X Unknown Japan ?(4) Unknown
2 WIN 2-0-0 199X Unknown Japan ?(4) Unknown
1 WIN 1-0-0 199X Unknown Japan ?(4) Unknown Pro Debut

Appearance

Saeki with his hair down.

Saeki has a muscular complexion, as with most boxers and a relatively darkened skin tone. He grows his dark brown hair long and shoulder length, choosing to tie it up in a pony tail during boxing matches and training. His eyebrows are thin and his eyes are slanted with dark brown/black pupils.

Personality

Based on his dialogue to his Former Boxing Club Captain, Saeki is a thrill seeker, where he likes being put in a life or death situation that a Professional Boxing ring has.

Saeki is essentially a hard worker with a passion for boxing. He has utmost confidence in his legs and his speed in the ring, a confidence he fortifies through a sparring match with Date Eiji where the latter failed to catch him even once in multiple rounds. Despite hearing that Date disliked his style of fighting, Saeki took the statement as a compliment. Unlike any other character in the series, Saeki seems to share a personal bond with his legs and feet, frequently mentally conversing with them to keep himself standing in fights. He calls his legs guys, as shown in his fight against Itagaki when they were failing him.

He is on good terms with previous gymmates as well as opponents in the ring, and displays excellent sportsmanship regardless of the outcome of the match.

Boxing Abilities

Saeki is a famous out-boxer with the ring name "Speed Star" for his unmatched speed and prowess in matches. When researching Saeki, Ippo noticed that when Saeki was throwing successive jabs, he moves around the opponent in a clockwise pattern.

During the spar with Date, Fujii Minoru noticed that Saeki's posture is where his knees and legs are bent and his hands are over his knees (similar to stances taken by baseball players where they can easily shift their weight to go in any direction, where as standard pose makes shifting weight for dashing and retreating easier. However, it makes going to the side more difficult.) Date comments that his style is similar to Terry Norris (WBC JR Middleweight Champion) and Pernell Whitaker (Former World Lightweight Champion.)

As an out-boxer, Saeki's style of fighting is similar to fellow flicker jab user Mashiba Ryou. His boxing sense combined with his sharpened footwork make for a deadly combination even Date Eiji couldn't keep up with.

Techniques

Weaknesses

Despite Saeki's confidence in his speed, the condition of his legs have been shown to deteriorate between his matches against Makunouchi Ippo and Itagaki Manabu, eventually failing him in a match against the latter.

His boxing style is also mentioned by Ippo to be "too perfect", or refined to the point of predictability. An opponent with decent boxing sense would always be able to predict where Saeki is in the ring.

Gallery

Main Article: Saeki Takuma/Gallery

Trivia

References

  1. Hajime no Ippo: ALL☆STARS
  2. Hajime no Ippo: ALL☆STARS
  3. Chapter 794, page 14
  4. Hajime no Ippo Official Guidebook, page 80
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