The long climb has the summit in view.
Joe seemingly has one more opponent to conquer before he is able to obtain the favor of the Megalonia board to have him be the last entrant in the 4-man competition and enter as the supreme underdog. The last fighter in Joe’s way however has more than just an advanced gear to fight with however.
Joe’s fame reaches new heights as the underdog of the entire Megalonia scene. Joe is brought up by name during a hot-topic interview covering the match between two fighters, Sugar and Mikio, the latter being sponsored by the Shirato group itself. As the commentators gush over how this match will be the deciding fight that will determine the last entrant into Megalonia and how Joe is a nonissue, Nanbu and Sacchio scoff at them as the latter explains that the fight determines nothing and it’s still up to the committee to decide who makes it in. The duo run into Yukiko of all people and Nanbu makes a passing remark at how Joe is the favorite to make it to Megalonia and Yukiko states that she wishes them luck in their endeavors.
Nanbu and Sacchio attend the match between Sugar and Mikio where Nanbu explains that Sugar is a highly talented fighter while Mikio is assisted by an AI-assisted gear that helps him predict and move around his opponents. Nanbu becomes worried as Mikio trivializes the fight with Sugar but becomes elated when Mikio makes a public statement as he issues a challenge to bring down the fan-favorite, Joe. The duo return home to the chained Joe, who for the past few days has been exclusively trying to recover from his wounds. Repeated fights in such quick succession topped by off by his hard earned victory against Aragaki has left him sore all over and Nanbu had to physically chain him to keep him from doing anything stupid. With their ticket to Megalonia more or less set with Mikio’s challenge, Nanbu tells Joe to rest up further before they pick up training again to get him in top shape. Back in Shirato HQ, the committee discuss Mikio’s challenge to Joe and Yukiko is given the ultimate decision as to let this happen or not, while the board mostly seems wanting to have Joe enter anyway to bring in more numbers. Yukiko is asked by her brother to meet with him in the labs where he states that will do anything to get into Megalonia to win back the future she took from him when their grandfather gifted the company to her instead of him.
Nanbu hears a rumor of how the Shirato Group’s boss is trying to stop her brother from getting into Megalonia and spruces up Joe’s training. Joe’s punches seem to be hitting harder, and Sacchio reveals that he and Joe have been secretly doing some strength training. Now with a more focused regimen, Joe shapes up until the big day arrives and as the trio walk to the ring, they find Mikio standing before them. He reveals that he is aware of Joe’s fake ID and knows of his true roots as JunkDog and threatens to disqualify him and Joe rushes to knock the smug bastard out but Nanbu steps in to pacify Joe from punching Mikio as the latter steps into the ring and waits for his unconscious opponent to enter.