Zoro was first noted to have Conqueror’s Haki by Kaido after the Emperor was struck by Zoro’s Nine Sword Style attack. During his battle against King, Zoro managed to gain conscious control over the advanced application of Conqueror’s Haki, infusing it into all three swords.
Now it’s time to look back at some of the moments that foreshadowed Zoro’s Conqueror’s Haki and by extension, Mihawk’s Conqueror’s Haki.
Kaido and Mihawk both recognised Zoro’s Conqueror’s Haki through an all-or nothing attack. Zoro’s spirit or presence has been commented on by other characters such as Urashima and Monet, but these two top tiers stand apart for noticing something special about Zoro’s attacks that carry the full brunt of his will.
Who better to recognise the use of Conqueror’s Haki than a fellow Conqueror themselves? Kaido realised something was up moments before the attack hit, but it was only after he absorbed Asura that he realised that Zoro was unconsciously using the most advanced form of Conqueror’s Haki, the ability to clad his attacks in the power of the Supreme King.
Another indication of Conqueror’s Haki, foreshadowed since Sabaody Archipelago, has been a Conqueror’s Haki user’s ability to tame animals. Luffy unconsciously manifested the most basic level of Conqueror’s Haki when he intimidated Duval’s bull, and either Zoro or Mihawk managed to tame the Humandrills on Kuraigana Island just like Luffy tamed the animals he trained with during the timeskip. Was it Zoro who tamed the baboons, Mihawk, or both?
During Marineford, Mihawk was also given a prominent reaction panel to Luffy’s Conqueror’s Haki. The Admirals and Luffy’s family (Garp, Ace) made sense given that Luffy was showing himself as a massive future threat to the navy, but what was Mihawk doing there? His reaction shot is positioned directly in the middle, with a larger frame than Garp’s and Sengoku’s.
We know that clashes between Conquerors become huge spectacles by virtue of the backlash produced by Conqueror’s Haki. Whitebeard and Shanks’ clash and Big Mom and Kaido’s longer duel both split the sky in dramatic fashion, matching Whitebeard’s description of Shanks and Mihawk’s duels that are still ringing in his ears decades later.
Oda has systematically debunked all the arguments downplayers use to assert that Mihawk doesn’t have the qualities of a Conqueror. Rayleigh spends his time drinking, gambling and pretending to be captured by slavers. Zoro happily serves under Luffy and Mihawk’s membership of a group (Straw Hats or Shichibukai) has no bearing on his notoriety or his former ambition before Shanks lost his arm. We even have multiple Conquerors serving under the World Government such as Sengoku, Boa Hancock and Doflamingo. As one of the few characters to hold a World’s Strongest title and the strongest member of his faction, Mihawk meets all the requirements to have Conqueror’s Haki In fact, all faction leaders/strongest members have Conqueror’s Haki.
Marines – Sengoku
Pirates – Whitebeard, Linlin, Kaido, Shanks
Revolutionaries – Dragon
Mihawk has probably known the entire time that Zoro had Conqueror’s Haki, recognising the same qualities in Sanzen Sekai as his duels with another powerful swordsman, Shanks. I think Mihawk was aware of Asura but he not said something since he want Zoro to take his own way to learn it. I’m sure guys like Mihawk and co having Advanced Conqueror’s Haki too.