If Joe Mesi jumps on Vassiliy Jirov this coming Saturday night, the fight could be over quick. Over the last few weeks I've read where more than a few think Vassiliy Jirov is the perfect foil for Mesi. I don't see it that way. In fact I actually see it the other way around. I think Jirov is the perfect opponent for Mesi to look good against. I sense Mesi will enter this fight versus Jirov very confident, as he should because he has all the advantages. He and his management team must know this? Which I'm sure is one of the reasons they took the fight. It's a chance for Joe to possibly score an impressive win over a name opponent in front of a National HBO audience.
In this fight with Jirov, Mesi no doubt has all the advantages. He is the bigger and stronger fighter, and he can probably get the better of Vassiliy fighting inside or outside. Mesi is also the better puncher and is equipped with a faster pair of hands. As far as chin's go, this is a little bit of an unknown. At Cruiserweight Jirov has shown a very good chin and was only really hurt by Toney. However, we've never seen Jirov cracked by a heavyweight who could punch. Mesi may not have Tua power, but power is not one of his shortcomings. As far as Mesi's chin, the jury is still out. What bodes well for him is that Jirov is not really a big puncher in my opinion. I doubt Joe's chin will be a liability in this fight.
The problem as I see it for Jirov is that he's a very limited offensive fighter. He has a typical European style southpaw jab, and just pushes it out. Although he steps with it, he still pushes it instead of snapping it. Basically, his offensive strategy is to push his opponent to the ropes with his jab, and then ram his straight left hand to the body. The problem is, he doesn't have any hook or finishing punch behind it. James Toney exploited this throughout their entire fight.
When ever a fighter goes to the body with his power shots exclusively, he is open to be countered, something Toney did all night against Jirov. Toney was cooperative in going to the ropes with Jirov because he knew what was coming. After he was backed up by a couple right jab's, he knew the left to the body was right behind them. He also knew that Jirov's hands would be low and he was wide open to be countered. And Toney was clockwork like executing his counter attack. Jirov was very lucky that Toney was not a big banger, which enabled him to go 12 rounds before Toney dropped him.
Two other things standout to me regarding Jirov's aggressive body attack. One thing you must remember is that to land solidly to the body, you must get close to your opponent. Does Jirov really want to be in constant range for Mesi to be able to reach and touch him at will. Especially when he has a habit of keeping his hands low after he unloads? I'm sure Mesi would welcome that scenario.
The other thing that stands out to me is, how devastating of a body puncher is Jirov? He hit Toney at will to the body, and too me it didn't appear that he took much out of James, if anything? I question how much Jirov's body punching will really hurt Mesi, or slow him down? Assuming he can even implement a sustained body attack?
So just how does Jirov pull this one out? His biggest asset of going to the body can very well be his undoing. Getting close to Mesi and trading isn't a strategy I'd advise him. I don't think he's a good enough boxer to stick and move while using the ring to win from the outside. On top of that, I question even if he is the better boxer and he definitely has the slower hands.
If I'm advising Mesi, I tell him to come right out and jump on him like he did DaVarryl Williamson. Mesi is a fast starter and is at his best in the early going. Although I do think Mesi may have a tendency to fade in the second half of the fight. Jirov on the other hand gets better as the fight progresses. However, it takes him a few rounds to get in sync, I sense he may be vulnerable to a Tysonesque early barrage.
I just see Mesi as having all the advantages in this up coming fight. If Jirov shows Mesi respect, and moves away and doesn't hold his ground, Mesi's confidence will soar and he'll be very tough to beat. If Jirov goes at him and tries to make Joe respect him, he could be playing into Mesi's hands. Again, I think Mesi has everything on his side in this fight.
The two questions I have heading into this fight is one, could I be grossly underestimating Jirov's strength? I don't think so, but if I have done that, my above scenario could very well go out the window. It's just that I've never been blown away by Jirov overall as a fighter or puncher, and who has he really fought? The other question I have is what does this fight do for Mesi other than providing him a nice payday. Believe me, I'm not putting anybody down for getting paid. I wish all fighters were paid like they had the following of De La Hoya or Mesi. It's just that if Mesi goes through Jirov, what does it say about him as a bona fide heavyweight contender?
If Mesi blows through Jirov, what will it really tell us about him. On the other hand if Jirov beats Mesi, most will say that Mesi was a nobody and nothing more than a media creation. I just hope that it's a good fight, and opens the door for some others down the road in the heavyweight division. I just think if Mesi jumps on Jirov, there is a good chance that it ends early.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV