In April of this year reports surfaced that undefeated heavyweight Joe Mesi suffered a subdural hematoma (bleeding on the surface of the brain) following his 10 round decision over Vassiliy Jirov on March 13, 2004. Soon after the fight with Jirov, Mesi complained of a headache. Later that month Mesi sought advice from neurosurgeon Robert C. Cantu, who ordered several tests, including an MRI.
On March 19th, Mesi was sent a letter from John Bailey, chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, informing him he was suspended by the commission because of the three knockdowns. The letter also stated the suspension would not be lifted until he was reevaluated, including another MRI, with all the results to be forwarded to the commission.
On Friday June 18th, it was reported by Buffalo Sports News that, “Joe Mesi’s attorney informed Nevada on Thursday he had no intention of submitting the suspended heavyweights medical reports as requested.” The Buffalo News also reported that Mesi suffered not one, but at least three distinct brain injuries in his fight with Jirov.
It’s been forwarded to this scribe that, “Prominent boxing authorities have confirmed seeing medical reports that indicate Mesi underwent repeat MRI’s at Physicians Imaging Center of Western New York that displayed bleeding on the surface of his brain in as many as four places after his March 13 fight with Vassiliy Jirov in Las Vegas.”
Recent reports indicate that Mesi had his first normal MRI result May 27. Joe Mesi, along with his father and co-manager Jack Mesi, has strongly denied the presence of any subdural hematoma. They say they are in the process of having his suspension overturned and are making all attempts to ensure that Mesi returns to boxing soon.
It’s been said among boxing regulators, “Joe Mesi’s decision to withhold his medical records from Nevada could effectively end his carrier, subdural hematoma or not.”
Mesi’s attorney Stuart D. Campbell of Tulsa, Oklahoma, spoke with chief deputy attorney general Keith Kizer last Thursday, offering a deal that would avoid Bailey’s order.
“Stuart Campbell called and instructed me, Mr. Mesi will not present the commission with his medical evaluations as was requested,” Buffalo News reported Kizer as saying. “He has stated Mr. Mesi would be happy to be examined by a physician of our choosing, but he was not interested in submitting his medical evaluations.” At this point neither Joe Mesi, his father Jack, or Campbell could be reached for any further comment on the matter, according to Buffalo Sports News.
According to Nevada law, “A boxer is prohibited from being licensed to fight if there is any history of a brain bleed. The regulation was instituted on the belief a fighter who has experienced brain bleeding in the past is predisposed to a recurrence.” Under federal law, all states must honor the suspension of another. Many nations, including Canada, also honor state suspensions.
According to the Associated Press and Buffalo Sports News, Mesi hoped neurologist Robert C. Cantu, along with his attorney Stuart D. Campbell, would ensure his return to the ring. In fact, it is more than likely the suspended heavyweight could be facing severe disciplinary action in Nevada for lying to the state’s athletic commission. Nevada Chief Deputy Attorney General, Keith Kizer, said, “Mesi could be fined and have his boxing license revoked for providing false information regarding brain bleeds sustained in his March 13th fight with Jirov.
Kizer raised those concerns while being interviewed by the Associated Press last week.
Kizer said he fears Mesi is putting his health and carrier in jeopardy. Keith Kizer, who also serves as the commission’s legal adviser, told The Associated Press that the commission is aware Mesi has had five MRI scans. Kizer added he believes some of those tests show the boxer sustained a subdural hematoma.
Kizer called it unacceptable that the boxer has changed his mind and is now refusing to forward the requested medical results to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. “This is some pretty serious stuff and it just makes no sense that Mr. Mesi is not willing to give the tests results to us,” adding he is disturbed by the discussions he’s had Mesi’s camp. “As of right now the ball is in Mr. Mesi’s court.”
Mesi spokesman James Cassidy said the boxer is eager to have his suspension lifted, saying, “I’m sure that anything that is being done, Joe is doing through the advice of his attorney.”
Kizer’s comments come after Mesi changed his plans this week, originally telling the commission, “The tests were forthcoming.” Mesi is now offering to instead be examined by a doctor appointed by the commission. “That’s not good enough,” Kizer said, noting “The commission already has the authority to submit a boxer to any examination.” “To say to the commission that ‘I got hurt in your state in a fight but I’m not going to show you what happened’…is unacceptable.”