Will Mesi Come Back?

07.01.04 - By Tom Donelson: Last year Baby Joe Mesi was an "enigma wrapped in a riddle" as his opponents consisted mostly old fighters on their last legs or the barely breathing. Now, the big question- will Mesi ever fight again?

Some questions were answered and some were left unanswered. And those unanswered may never be answered. Going into the 2004 year, Mesi had dispatched DaVarrel Williamson in one round before engaging in a close bout with Monte Barrett. Mesi proved too strong for Barrett in the first five rounds and just dominated the tentative New York City native before Barrett made a second half comeback to tighten the fight on the scorecard. Barrett boxing skills nearly undid the Buffalo native, as Mesi appeared to run out of gas.

The Barrett suddenly had pundits wondering just how good Mesi was and then came the Vassily Jirov fight. For eight rounds, Mesi outworked Jirov, which is not an easy thing to do. In most fights, it is Jirov who outworks and out punches his opponent but Mesi flashed a sharp jab followed by combinations to Jirov body and head as he out punched the Russian fighter by a two to one margin. Averaging nearly 70 punches per round, Mesi appeared on his way to an easy victory. At the end of the ninth round, Jirov caught Mesi with a shot and sent him to the canvas. The tenth round was just a matter of survival for Baby Joe Mesi as Jirov knocked Mesi down two more times and nearly pulled the fight out.

After the fight, Mesi's brain showed subdural hematoma and from this point, Mesi career went into limbo. The state of Nevada revoked Mesi's license and the Mesi's camp proved uncooperative with the state when it came to releasing Mesi's medical record. Mesi's PR man Tony Holden resigned and rumors spread about the extent of the injury.

Even now, how much damage done is still a question as the Mesi's camp insist that their man can fight and have medical clearing. Meanwhile, the State of Nevada is telling the Mesi's camp, show me the evidence."

Mesi's future as a fighter is now in the hands of the Nevada board as they review all of the medical records. Jack Mesi, Joe's father and manager, told an interviewer, "Joe is feeling great and has been for a long time. It took so long to send these reports because the records are personal and confidential. We needed to protect the records and make sure the correct information was sent." He added that Marco Barrera had suffer from head injuries and have been allowed to fight, so why not Joe?

Of course the problem is that depending upon the extent of the injuries, Mesi may be putting his life on the line if he fights. The Nevada state board felt it was jabbed when Mesi's camp proved slow in releasing data originally and the Mesi's camp were angry that medical records that should have stayed private became public. Mesi's camp felt that the extent of the Mesi's injuries was exaggerated in the media. Soon, the truth will come out.

As for Mesi himself, there were some serious questions left to be answer. An engaging and charismatic personality, the Jirov left some lingering doubts on Mesi's skills. The question that still remains to this day- were we witnessing just a good fighter who had reached his highest level or a potential champ? Mesi almost lost to a former cruiserweight. During the fight, Mesi showed some basic boxing skills but his power did not appear to match a Mike Tyson or David Tua. A small heavyweight by today's standard, Mesi may not have the power needed to make the jump into upper elites. We may never truly know the answer to the question, just how good was Joe Mesi?

Article posted on 07.01.2005

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