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Joe Mesi has Many Suitors

BY Rick Folstad ON March 17, 2004
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Baby Joe Mesi is like the frumpy waitress at Denny's who just won the lottery. Suddenly, she's got more suitors than a bus-load of beauty queens.

Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of Baby Joe.

That's what happens when you have a big slice of the pie and some guys don't think you deserve it.

Now, according to Boxingtalk, even Queens heavyweight Vinny "Big Madd" Maddalone wants a piece.

This could be a good thing for the heavyweight division, at least in New York state. A couple of up-and-coming Italian-American guys duking it out in, say, the Garden, one from Queens and the other from Buffalo. That's entertainment. There won't be an empty seat or a dry eye in the house.

Everyone's heard of Baby Joe. He's fought twice on TV recently and though he's 2-0 in those fights, they haven't been what you would call impressive wins. Rocky Marciano's place in heavyweight history is secure.

So far, Baby Joe has shown us he has a lot of heart. He just hasn't shown us much of a chin. In his last two fights, he's spent more time on his knees than the scrubbing lady at Penn Station.

But he keeps getting up off the canvas and somehow winning close fights against tough guys, and that's what they'll remember when the boys from the old neighborhood sit down with a few cold ones and talk fighting.

Saturday night against former cruiserweight champ Vassiliy Jirov at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Mesi made it an adventure again. He looked like a seasoned pro for eight rounds, and a stumbling drunk for the last two.

That's because, late in the fight, Jirov suddenly found his elusive game plan and began rocking Mesi with everything he threw. He couldn't miss. And though Mesi looked like a guy being mugged in a back alley, he did show enough ring smarts to take a knee and an eight-count when he needed it most. It kept Jirov from scoring a knockout. Taking that knee might have been the most impressive thing Mesi did all night. He's learning.

Baby Joe won the fight by one point on everyone's scorecard, and he somehow has remained undefeated at 29-0 with 25 KOs, though his knockout percentage has taken a beating of its own his last couple times out.

And now everyone wants a shot at him. Beat the third franchise from Buffalo.

Maddalone? He's been watching the Baby Joe parade march by and he wants to join the band. He's 21-1, most of his fights taking place in Yonkers. His only loss came at the hands of former cruiserweight champ Al Cole, who just got beat by Hasim Rahman.

A loss to Cole - who has only four wins in his last 16 fights, including the win over Mesi - doesn't help the resume.

But that Italian-American theme holds a lot of promise.

Marciano is probably looking down, smiling.

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