FSW List 76: Top 8 Hajime no Ippo Fights


This is it. The big one for the series, storyline-wise. After a failure to get the title the first time around, Ippo climbs his way back up the circuit, and meets perennial hardpunching rival Sendo in the champ’s seat. Both of them unsatisfied with their earlier, inconclusive bout, the two see this not just as a fight for the title, but as a resolution long in coming.

Beyond the personal aspect is the professional one. For the better part of the early series, Ippo’s goal has been the Japanese featherweight championship. And his previous defeat at the hands of then-champion Date devastated him, and forced him to re-evaluate his skills and techniques as a boxer. Sendo, meanwhile, took the title after Date left, but feels he won’t be legitimized unless he wins the rematch of his one loss.

As I’ve mentioned, the best fights in Hajime no Ippo involve personal stakes. Something driving one or both of the combatants, so that it’s not just skill or power determining the outcome, but drive and spirit. And there is a metric SHIT TON of that here.

Pictured: A metric shit-ton of spirit.

Pictured: A metric shit-ton of spirit.

The fight itself is amazing, a viscerally pounding series of blows from two monstrously powerful men. This is definitely one of the more brutal fights in the series, not just because of the visual aspect, but because we, as the viewers, know just how hard these two punch. And to see them trading blows with each other is a wince-inducing spectacle in the best way possible. Several times, you find yourself doubting who is going to win, and that of course is the best part of watching two evenly matched opponents.

But, of course, it’s the grand finale of the fight, that is itself the grand finale of the first anime, that demands it be on this list. You know the one. If you’ve seen an AMV for this show, you’ve seen the final blows of this match.

There is nothing about that scene that is not amazing. Besides coming at the end of a long, brutally exhausting fight, it’s just fucking awesome in general. From the moment Shocking Lemon’s “Inner Light” starts playing, you know you’re into it, as Ippo hits Sendo with the liver blow (self-explanatory), followed by the Gazelle Punch (an uppercut with a short hop), then finally a full-fledged Dempsey Roll (his ultimate technique, a barrage of punches that utilizes constant upper body swaying to dodge at the same time, meaning one can attack and defend simultaneously). The combo is absolutely brutal, especially the Dempsey Roll, which in sound and sight, feels more like canon fire than any human punches.

We get one last look at Sendo’s mind, his drive, but you gotta know it’s over. This is how you end a show about boxing, with tremendous sound and fury. It’s a little bittersweet; like always, we like Sendo enough to regret his defeat. But hot DAMN, what a way to go out.

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