Although Kimura wasn’t exactly on a roll when he got the call to fight Mashiba for the national title at 130 pounds (after other contenders turning Mashiba down), he knew this wasn't an opportunity he couldn't say no to despite Mashiba’s previously established reputation as a vicious boxer with speed, reach, and power.
He knew he didn't have what it takes to win, but he felt he had to put in the hard work.
Initially being a mid-range out boxer, he knew he had to change his style as a close range in-fighter like Ippo in order to fight Mashiba. Kimura enlists the help of his former gym mate, Miyata Ichiro, in order to get ready and develops a new technique, an overhand right he calls the dragon fish blow in order to compensate his disadvantages.
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When it came fight time, Kimura predictably struggles to get past Mashiba’s long flicker jab. But in the later rounds, he finds his range and finally lands his newly developed technique scoring a knockdown.
Kimura’s heart would later persevere and would give Mashiba his toughest challenge since Ippo.
In a middle of a heated exchange, both men would fire right hands at each other and land simultaneously. Due to Mashiba’s reach advantage, it allowed him more power to score the knockout despite Kimura standing unconsciously.
After the fight, Aoki, his best friend since kindergarten shredded man tears and embraced him out of concern for his safety and praise for his effort. Initially wanting to retire, if in the event he lost, Kimura realized that a mere centimeters in difference between their reaches shouldn't be reason enough to quit.