Finally… After several months of waiting, we get new chapters of Hajime no Ippo! Not chapter but CHAPTERS!

This is the greatest sports manga ever created, hands down. So much thought and research gets put into this. No wonder it’s been running for so many years… along with the fact that chapters are released randomly after lengthy periods of absence.

It has actually been over 2 months since the last chapter was released and here we have three coming at once.

So let’s review these chapters shall we.

We were left with World’s #2; Gonzalez in the ring with Ippo. This is the biggest match for Ippo to date because winning this means getting the #1 contendership for the World Title.

He’s not competing just for the Japanese Title anymore… He’s going to face the WORLD!!!

We all know this guy emulates the current world champion who is also from Mexico and although he has lost a few times to the champ, he is the only one who is anywhere near that level. Although he seems to put on this calm, cool and collected attitude, we all can sense he isn’t as disciplined as he looks. He is far more ferocious and is keeping the tiger within him, locked deep down.

So far, he’s been testing Ippo with his left that can both come straight and from underneath. At first Ippo took a few hits considering his usual style is to go head-on. After his usual, ‘learning the hard-way’ routine; Ippo has finally come to grips with the opponent’s left.

The first chapter of the lot is called:

“What’s Hidden?”

This means a great deal. One of the biggest things in boxing is tricks up the sleeve. Considering they don’t even wear any sleeves, this is in the metaphorical sense. You see, boxers spend months studying their opponents, watching all their previous bouts, looking for what to avoid and how to exploit their weaknesses. When the opponent comes out with something that he hasn’t used before… something that was hidden, that’s what usually turns the match in their favour. Either that… or underestimating the opponent.

So what exactly is Alf Gonzalez hiding?

His second (term for coach in boxing) seems to think that Ippo is eating up the bait… but also warns him about letting those habits of his pop up. This clearly shows this isn’t his natural fighting style; he is keeping his inner beast supressed. Unlike Ippo who is doing what he knows best.

Ippo’s second, coach Kamogawa reckons that Gonzalez does have a trick up his sleeve so he better watch-out. Ippo think one dimensionally in his fights and only realises something when it hits in the head so I doubt the coach’s wise words will make much of a difference here.

Like always the chapters were drawn out beautifully. Absolutely gorgeous. This is the artwork that makes me sit back and think, WOW! He’s put some effort into this. It was worth the wait.

This image right here is what I mean. We can clearly see what Ippo is doing, pushing off his back foot to close in on his opponent. Although they are in the same ring… from Ippo’s perspective, his opponent is very far away and he is trying to close the distance. The background, the crowds, the little details, everything has been put in well.

Ippo has noted that all his opponent’s punches are coming in head-on so he puts his training to use and begins make sharp sways of his head from left to right, or head-slips as he calls them, as he advances whilst avoiding his head getting knocked back.

However every time Ippo closes in, Gonzalez dodges at the last minute to avoid the blow and the liver shots that Ippo does manage to throw get blocked by his right. So no clean hits.

Ippo thinks he almost had him and it is true he almost did but I feel Ippo is getting a little ahead of himself here. He thinks that the coach’s training has helped him become a boxer that can compete against the best in the world. This is exactly what he shouldn’t be thinking. He should be concentrating on the trick that Gonzalez has got up his sleeve. I mean, it is true… he can compete against the best now but and the coach has helped a lot but unless he reads the game, he is going to take a beating.

Miyata has noticed that something is off and the Gonzalez doesn’t seem impressive for the World’s #2. You’d expect him to be much better and the reporter; Minora Fuji also notices this. The guy hasn’t even used his right yet. Yeah, he is using it to block but he hasn’t thrown a single straight punch. This is something to be worried about.

Miyata believes he’s making Ippo memorize this left technique where it comes from straight and in the uppercut format so that when he switches things around, Ippo won’t be able to compete with them.

The chapter ends here but there are two more to come so reviews will follow shortly…