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Exercising Options- What's next for Wright, Mosley, Mesi and Jirov
Mar 16, 2004: By Wayne Richardson

Who says boxing is going downhill? HBO’s excellent card on Saturday night that treated fans with two exciting fights provided more than enough evidence to dispel this notion and it also helped to confirm some other questions regarding the boxers on the card. It showed that Shane Mosley will always have a problem with boxers possessing a good jab and Winky Wright was underrated by most fans. The under card confirmed to us that Vassily Jirov, however great his heart doesn’t belong in the heavyweight division and that Joe Mesi is still an eight round fighter. However there still leaves one question regarding each fighter that needs to be addressed. Where does each of these boxers go from here?

As we all know the main objectives of a boxer is to earn as much money as possible and to be considered a legitimate champion in their respective division and it is no different for the above mentioned fighters. Each fighter now has to find the best way to make lucrative matches happen with the least amount of risk and to do this they have to also be able to attract fans. The good showing each fighter had will indeed help and by examining what options are open to each, it can be seen what the best direction to head is.

Vassily Jirov had decided to abandon the cruiserweight division that he had dominated and join the big boys in the heavyweight division after losing his title to James Toney, but after his apprehensive showing against Joe Mesi this may not be his best weight to campaign at. Jirov came in at a solid 212, but seemed to be unwilling to mix it up after feeling Mesi’s right hand in the opening rounds. He chose to abandon the body attack that made him so successful and rather chose to try and time Joe’s right hand. It wasn’t until the ninth round that he mounted any aggressive attack, and while he did manage three knockdowns in two rounds, it wasn’t enough to make up for seven rounds of inactivity.

Jirov has a great chin, a good punch and a lot of heart, but it still isn’t enough to compete at a championship level with big heavyweights. He takes to many solid shots and when hit hard he shuts down his attack. He will be overpowered by the bigger heavyweights and even with his sturdy chin the punches of the top fighters in the heavyweight division would wear him down quickly. Vassily is a championship level fighter, but only at the cruiserweight limit and that is where he should stay, looking for a fight with Wayne Braithwaite or the winner of the Mormeck and Hill contest. These are the two fights that will make him the most money and a real chance of securing a title before winding down his career. Fighting thirty six times in his high pressure style combined with an extensive amateur career appears to be taking a toll on Jirov and the number of good fights left in him may be dwindling, but if he chooses to stay at heavyweight, he can maybe fight some prospects or contenders. However, the money may not be worth the danger.

Joe Mesi did win the fight, but may have done more damage to his credibility as a serious heavyweight contender. He did box well and found a good solid rhythm facing a southpaw, but again as in his previous fight with Monte Barrett, he faded in the late rounds. He also left critics with plenty of ammunition regarding his chin by being knocked down three times by a blown up cruiserweight, barely holding onto the comfortable lead he established. Also in question is how powerful his punches really are since he couldn’t put away what appeared to be a beaten fighter. Hopefully this puts an end to any more ridiculous comparisons to Rocky Marciano and a more reasonable assessment along the lines of Lou Savarese

This win may help Joe in the money category since it will bring out some big opponents looking for what appears to be an easy win over a name challenger. Mesi still has tremendous drawing power in his hometown of Buffalo and should hold out for a big money fight in his next appearance, against fighters he can beat like John Ruiz, Kirk Johnson or Hasim Rahman in his own backyard. A win against one of these guys could set him up for a shot at the title because after twenty nine fights he can’t be still in learning mode (Tyson won a title by his twenty-eighth match and Lewis in his twenty-third fight). But at the same time Mesi cannot keep up with the real contenders like Dominick Guinn, Audley Harrison or Jameel McCline. If Mesi faces any of them, his chance will end for any hope of a title run.

Shane Mosley knew he was taking a big risk when he chose to face Winky Wright, but it was a risk with big rewards if he won. He would have been the undisputed champion and his next fight would have been against Tito Trinidad for eight figures. Having missed out on a big money fight when Mayorga lost to Spinks and not wanting face De La Hoya again, Shane picked Winky against the advice of many in the business. Unfortunately for Shane, this gamble didn’t pay off when Wright exposed his vulnerability to strong boxers en route to a unanimous decision and once again, a huge payday has been scrapped.

Talks are under way for Mosley to exercise his right to a rematch. But unless he relearns his whole fighting style this is not in his best interest since Wright has the style to beat him every time and another loss to him would really put a damper on any chance of a super fight. There is no real reason to cancel the big fights since Mosley still has drawing power with his name as do Trinidad and Mayorga and fans would still pay to see a fight between either of these two against him. The advantage to Mosley along with money is that both of these fighters have a style that he loves to face off with; they both come in straight on stalking rather than boxing. He can eat up these guys with his fast hands and body attack. A win over any of these guys and Shane is back on top.

With the titles earned and a place in Canastota secured, it’s now time to look at the money fights that can be made before challenging a champion he can’t beat.

Lastly we will look at the boxer who made the biggest impact on his career on Saturday night. After years of languishing on the under card of many big matches, Winky Wright finally earned his own main event and made the most of it. Armed with a tight defense and a great jab he dominated the fight, showing he belonged in the upper echelon of 154 lb fighters and deserves a big match.

The best that could happen to him would be a rematch with Mosley to prove his win wasn’t a fluke and to now be in the top seat during negotiations which would bring the larger share of the purse to him. A rematch with Fernando Vargas is probably at the top of Wright’s wish list and many fans would like to see it also even if Vargas is not the same fighter who beat Winky albeit controversially. A match against Trinidad won’t happen because enough money can’t be made that would satisfy Felix and King who will try for a warm-up before attempting to take on the winner of Hopkins and De la Hoya. There are also matches against Kassim Ouma who looked good in stopping Candelo and Javier Castillejo, but a fight that holds interest would be Wright against Vernon Forrest, the only guys to beat Mosley

The options open to each fighter are extensive and each will make every effort to do what is best for their selves and hopefully something the fans can look forward too, boxing matches like the ones we had the pleasure of viewing these past weeks.

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