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Surrendering Greatness: Part One

thumb Mesi Surrendering Greatness: Part One A suitable analogy to explain the current predicament of heavyweight contender Joe Mesi would be to imagine yourself having realized that you are the possessor of a jackpot winning lottery ticket, only, upon attempting to cash the ticket, you are startled to find that its expiry date has already passed.

Although the admission from his camp of the severity of his injuries suffered against Vassiliy Jirov hardly appeared as a shocking revelation, my evaluation of his present situation leads me to sympathize somewhat with his plight. Whatever the differing opinions of Mesi amount to, what is certain about his status before the Jirov fight is this: he was an undefeated heavyweight fighter enjoying the fervent support of his hometown of Buffalo while steadily galvanizing the strength of his affection in the eyes of HBO. He was ranked as the WBC’s number one contender for Vitali Klitschko’s title, a dubious honor perhaps but nonetheless one he seemed certain to contest and receive a handsome amount of money for doing so. Understandably, the dilemma of whether to throw all of these things away is a potent one.

The scales of indecision are tipped considerably by the hard medical evidence, which reveals that Mesi, because of the punishment incurred during his last fight, suffered a hematoma on his brain. Fundamentally, a hematoma in a case such as Mesi’s is a leakage of blood that has collected between two protective sheaths within the skull. The rather fanciful analysis of Mesi’s last MRI scan results reported by his camp suggest a re-absorption of the blood back into the body, thus eliminating the possibility of permanent damage. However, upon consulting with a medical expert, I was informed that the chief medical concern in this case focuses on the damaged vein from which the blood leakage occurred. The body’s natural reparatory ability offers no guarantee that the damaged vein will be flexible enough to withstand the strain of the rotational skull movement that would occur inevitably for Mesi whilst absorbing head punches. The vulnerability of the concerned vein substantially increases the future probability of another breakage and virtually certifies that Mesi would suffer severe brain damage, or become boxing’s next unnecessary fatality.

If the question of Mesi’s legacy remains open for debate, it could be argued that he was one of the apparent novelty minority of white fighters, possessing merely average talent distinguished slightly by considerable punching power. Perhaps the potential of his premature retirement is not as heartbreaking a prospect to some as the incarceration of the mentally unhinged Ike Ibeabuchi whose past transgressions are easily overshadowed by the weighty suspicion that he would have dominated the heavyweight division.
Joe Mesi is a man devoid of the periodic lunacy and self-destructiveness apparently inherent to many of his peers. He is a personable and determined yet realistic individual, and while some people might be pitiless or indifferent, there is sorrow to be felt at the likelihood of his being unable to attempt to realize his dreams.

'Time bomb' ticks out.

In a scenario eerily similar to Mesi’s, South African lightweight Phillip 'Time bomb' Ndou has just announced his retirement from boxing. Ndou, a native of Johannesburg lost a split decision this past May for the South African lightweight title and collapsed in his dressing room after the fight. Despite this alarming development, plans were afoot for Ndou to make a comeback to boxing against Jason Cook, the holder of the lightly regarded IBO lightweight title. However, Ndou’s decision to heed the advice of the doctors that informed him of an abnormality in his brain that, if further damaged would severely compromise his quality of life, should serve as a timely reminder to Mesi and fighters like him who are contemplating fighting on despite enormous health risks.
Phillip Ndou leaves boxing with a record of thirty-one wins, thirty by knockout and three losses. He is a former South African featherweight champion, WBU super-featherweight champion and a valiant challenger for Floyd Mayweather Jr’s. WBC lightweight title.
On behalf of myself and all of the team here at saddoboxing.com, Phillip, we wish you the very best for the future.

Before I go, Joe.

Ironically, it might be in retirement that Mesi provides his defining moment for the boxing world to savor. Unfortunately, as evidenced by Riddick Bowe’s recent return to the ring, boxing still harbors fighters of deluded ambition who lack a proper regard for their own health. If boxing commissions can agree on when it is suitable to stop a fighter in the ring due to a facial cut that will heal relatively quickly, surely they can come together and provide no alternatives for a man whose very mortality is at stake. For his own part, Joe Mesi can be one of the precious few fighters to set a bold precedent and a courageous example to everyone involved in boxing by choosing life, safe in the knowledge that whatever else is dealt to him, he achieved a feat that has proven beyond the will of some of the greatest fighters ever known.

Jim Cawkwell can be reached at jam2lis@sprint.ca

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