Courtesy: Tonawanda News
By John D'Onofrio
Greater Niagara Newspapers
About the only things Baby Joe Mesi has in common with his next opponent is the powerful blows of Vassiliy Jirov.
Mesi, 31-0 with 25 knockouts, will take on Dennis “Mad Dog” Matthews of Houston, 9-27 with six KOs, Saturday night at the Pope County Fairgrounds in Little Rock, Ark.
It’s Mesi’s third fight this year as part of his comeback bid after more than a year away from the sport.
Once ranked as the No. 1 contender in the world by the World Boxing Council (WBC), Mesi has fought twice this year. Those fights have featured a decision win over Stephane Tessier on June 23 in Montreal and Ron Bellamy (TKO) on April 1 in Puerto Rico.
Matthews, who is unranked by the WBC, and Mesi, now ranked 24th in the world by the same boxing council, have both faced Jirov (now ranked 48th by the WBC) in their heavyweight careers.
Mesi’s narrow win over Jirov in late 2004 was tempered by a post-fight diagnosis of bleeding of the brain and a suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission precluding Mesi from fighting anywhere in the United States.
Matthews fought Jirov nine years ago in Lake Charles, La., getting knocked out in the fourth round.
“Matthews is the right guy for a tune-up,” said Baby Joe’s father and manager Jack Mesi on Wednesday.
“We’ll go four, possibly six rounds and then we’ll see after the fight where to go and who to fight from there.”
The Mesi-Matthews fight is being promoted by Stacey Goodson.
Last week, the Mesi camp canceled a scheduled Aug. 5 fight in South Africa against Adenilson Rodrigues of Brazil.
The Mesi-Matthews fight also dispels rumors and national broadcast reports that have said Mesi could not garner a license to fight in the United States, according to Team Mesi.