Joe Mesi-Jason Weiss: Baby Joe Continues His Comeback

14.09.06 - Pierre Chaltrey: Heavyweight "Baby" Joe Mesi (32-0, 26 KO's) returns to the ring tomorrow night when he takes on 36-year old Jason Weiss (3-1, 2 KO's) in a scheduled 4-round bout at the Little River Casino in Manistee, Michigan. Say what you will about Mesi, he's certainly not about to take any risks in his 4th bout in his comeback following a 2-year suspension from boxing due to a brain injury (subdural hematoma) he experienced in his bout with Vasilly Jirov in May 2004.

For those who may not remember, Mesi was dominating that fight up until the 9th round when he was suddenly knocked down by a series of right hands thrown by Jirov. He made it up but was knocked down twice more but was able to make it out of the bout, winning a close 10-round decision. Since returning from his 2-year suspension in April 2006, Mesi has seemed like a shadow of his former self. His hand speed, and power, is badly missing in his three bouts since making his return. He's won all three bout, beating 3rd-tier fighters Ronald Bellamy, Stephane Tessier, and Dennis Matthews, but he's been far from impressive in each bout. By looking at him from a glance, he seems as if he's punching in slow motion and other than his recent 2-round knockout over Matthews, his punches lack the snap that he had before the suspension 2 years ago. If that wasn't bad enough, he's not defending well, either. Against Tessier and Bellamy, both hardly power punchers, they had little trouble connecting with numerous head shots against Mesi. More troubling than that, was the way Mesi reacted after getting hit. The punches seemed to freeze him for a moment. He didn't go down in any of the fights, but the way he took the punches caused me to worry somewhat.

Presumably, if given enough time to get the rust off his arsenal, he should be able to comeback to close to his former self of two years. After all, he's only 32-years old, and looks to be in solid shape, weighing 232 lbs in his last bout in August 2006, with just a little fat around his midsection. However, the subdural hematoma that he experienced is potentially a very serious injury, one that involves subdural bleeding resulting from tears in the veins in the subdural area of his brain causing an increase in pressure around the brain. What residual effects from that injury are still largely unknown at this point and we can only guess based on his before and after injury performances in the ring. Who knows? Maybe Mesi will be able to rebound after a couple of more tune-ups and look as good as he previously did before, when he was being groomed for a potential opponent for Mike Tyson.

We'll soon fight out anyway, since with a couple of more semi-easy victories over low level competition like Weiss, Mesi will likely soon step it up and face a top 10 fighter. At that point, we'll finally see if Mesi still has what it takes to fight at the upper levels of the heavyweight division or not. When that time comes, I doubt that he will be thrown in with a murderous puncher like Wladimir Klitschko or Samuel Peter, as that would probably too big of a jump for Mesi to successfully make. Instead, I could see him facing someone like Chris Byrd or possibly Nikolay Valuev, both being fighters that focus more on boxing than on scoring knockouts over their opponents. Still, Byrd and Valuev can be dangerous if theyre put in the position to land enough punches. At this point, Id favor either of them over Mesi by a wide margin based on what Ive seen of him in his last three fights since his comeback.

For now, Mesi should have no problems beating Jason Weiss tomorrow night. Weiss is clearly not at Mesi's level, even this version of Mesi. The fight will likely go no longer than a round or two, depending on how much work Mesi wants to put in. If Mesi puts pressure on Weiss early in the bout, he'll end it with little trouble.

Article posted on 15.09.2006

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