Joe Mesi-Monte Barrett: "Baby" Steps
07.12.03 - By Keith Terceira: Nay Sayers are out this morning after Monte Barrett teaches the Mesi camp the value of humility. Itís time to drop the Marciano comparisons and head for the gym for a little back to basics training. What was supposed to be a coming out party to celebrate and justify his ranking in the top ten, turned out to be a revival meeting for Monte Barrett. Barrett revealed for fight fans just what Mesi needs to do to compete in the top tier of the division. Unfortunately, the critics of Mesi were given new fodder for their campaign to discredit Joe. The fodder was proved in large part by Mesi himself, as he walked wide open into a big left hook in the seventh round.
Article posted on 07.12.2003
Prior to the seventh though it was the Joe show. Mesi displayed a stiff jab and good body work in the first round and had Monte dazed early and often. But for some reason the finisher didnít finish. The "Eye of the Tiger" style that Mesi has been showing in his fights suddenly disappeared yesterday and when Mesi had Barrett staggered several times he only half- heartedly followed up. Compubox numbers were 18-57 landed for Mesi and 6-30 for Barrett in the first. Mesi who usually throws tons of punches , kept the total down figuring I guess to save some reserves. Mesiís jab looked awesome at times, crisp and powerful but was delivered a bit awkwardly . At other times it had a hang time to make any kick off team proud.
Barrett fans out there that feel Monte won any of the first 6 rounds you may be right . What bought Barrett time to recover from the drubbing he was getting was the only even close round early, the fourth. In that round it was almost as if Monte and Mesi decided to play a little defense and take a breather. After being dropped in the fifth Barrett switching up and going southpaw was a brilliant move because it confounded Mesi and showed us that Mesi needs more experience leading with the right against a lefty.
Up until the seventh round, the fourth was the only round in which Barrett was not visibly shaken by a Mesi blow, either the left hook or the right cross. Both these punches are extremely powerful weapons in the Mesi arsenal. Coming out of the seventh I had it scored six rounds to one, Mesi . The fourth round could have easily gone to Barrett depending on what you place more importance on. If its one or two extra punches it goes to Barrett , if its aggressiveness and ring generalship it was Mesi. The way you scored that round was the pivotal point in the fight. From 7 to 10 it was the Monte Show, Mesi was bothered by the left eye closing and he switched from the puncher to the boxer. In the eighth Joe attempted to counter punch but Barrett was to slick for that and Mesi landed only 4 of 28 thrown.
I had hoped that somehow both these fighters would come out winners in this fight because both are deserving representatives of the sport and great community leaders.
I make no secret about my support for Joe Mesi but if Monte Barrett doesnít pull in some big purses coming off this fight then the sport has gone to the dogs. Before Mesi even considers moving up to top ten fighters he needs to give Monte a rematch. Joe needs to show everyone that he learned some lessons against Monte and in payment for the education give Barrett his props in a return engagement.
In his own words Mesi says, "I hate to say it but I needed to get knocked down. I needed to go the distance, I'll learn from this."
Small steps Joe, you arenít ready to run with the big dogs!
Damn, every time I think boxing is going to begin recovering from a self imposed blackeye, it sucker punches itself. How the hell do you explain Kirk Johnsonís conditioning and his fight plan. What was his camp thinking. Did they feel that Johnson had the power to go toe to toe. I had half heartily joked about that the other day when the weigh-in was announced. Vitali is the real deal and Lewis needs to cook or get out of the kitchen. That is if you can move Kirk first.
Sorry, that may have been uncalled for but Johnson is a good fighter who may have internal issues that prevent him from handling success. It concerns me in all honesty, Kirk Johnsonís self-destructive behavior. Here is a talented top ten heavyweight who seems to implode going into big opportunities. I hope that his camp stops worrying about the outer battles and steps up and helps him with some inner ones.
Klitschko devastated Johnson and now waits again for Lewis to make up his mind. If Lennox does not declare his intentions shortly I hope that Vitali is awarded the title or at least a fight for the vacated belt within the next 90 days. Boxing needs active champions to survive.
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