10 wins and a clean record of winning with only knockouts. The match with Date Eiji (Champion at the time) was exhilarating. There was enough reason to believe that this would be his first loss in an official match. Jyoji Morikawa (writer) made sure to keep us guessing till the very end.
Ippo really surprised us all with his ability to take the match till Round 5 before his Coach threw in the towel at the same time that he fell straight on the ground. The first round gave a clear idea that what each of their strengths and weaknesses were. While Makunouchi Ippo, the challenger, had great potential, the main weakness he had was the fact that he didn’t have the experience to make it yet. Data Eiji, on the other hand, was a highly experienced fighter, his understanding of his opponent’s character and his ability were extraordinary.
- His Fans believed in him till the very end
Ippo was getting pounded down when his fans started chanting ” Go for it!”. When Ippo had lost complete focus, it was his fans who noticed that he was listening and he was using every piece of positivity he got to keep pushing ahead against Date Eiji. It can be easily seen in the next scene where he leans on to Date for support and keeps pounding on the champion’s body.
2. Coach Kamogawa Genji
Coach Kamogawa Genji was the only reason Ippo made it this far. Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid once said “no such thing as bad student, only bad teacher.” The reverse also applies.
Coach Kamogawa made sure that Ippo was prepared for Date. They went over all the tapes. They went over all the techniques and strategy. But, at this point in Round 4, there was every reason for a normal coach to throw in the towel. But, Kamogawa Genji was no ordinary coach. He decided to keep Ippo in the ring till Ippo reached his absolute limit.
In Round 5, Coach Kamogawa did the right thing by throwing in the towel. Date had just used the Heart Break Shot (signature move) and he was going for another finisher as Ippo hadn’t gone down yet. As he said “The final duty of a trainer is to return his boxer home safely.”
3. Ippo’s fighting spirit
Ippo used sheer strength and persistence to keep pushing forward. He started this journey with the question “What does it mean to be strong?”. This match, although it was his first official loss, really showed his supporters, coach and even his opponent Date what he is made of.
There was a moment in the end of Round 4 where Ippo comes back to his corner and his coach asks him if he still wants to continue the match. Ippo says “Move… I can still… move. I have to use everything. I will not let it end until I have used everything, because… I am the challenger.”