(Born on November 27, 1973) -- The Joe Mesi Story might be the greatest “What if?” in Western New York’s boxing history.
Baby Joe was born in Tonawanda and went to Sweet Home High School. He didn’t even take up boxing until he was 19 years old. After winning a state Golden Gloves championship, Mesi eventually moved into the pro ranks.
His first fight was in 1997 in the Apollo Theater in New York, and Mesi knocked out Duane Cason Allen in the first round. The wins kept coming - 28 in a row. There was talk of a title shots and multi-million dollar bouts in the Bills’ stadium.
Then fate got in the way. Mesi beat Vassily Jarov in Las Vegas, but suffered a head injury along the way. Mesi’s career came to a halt as he lost his license. He eventually did fight again and won seven more bouts, but eventually retired in 2007.
In 2008, Mesi’s career took an odd turn as he ran for public office, losing a State Senate race. He did land a post with the Democratic Senate majority.
--- Budd Bailey