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"Baby" Joe Mesi, professional boxer, 25

What's this "baby" stuff?

Just a nickname. I was the baby of the family. Not only the youngest, I was always the smallest. I just never grew, and then I show up for school in 12th grade and I'm 6 feet tall.

Did you want to be a boxer when you were in first grade?

Never. I can't believe I'm boxing now. We were always a big boxing family. I played every other sport imaginable. I think everything else I've done helped prepare me for boxing: football, wrestling, baseball. ... You can become champion of the world. You can become North American champion. I'm curious to see how far I can take boxing.

What would end boxing for you?

Injury. A couple of losses. I'm not going to continue getting punched. I have things to fall back on. I have two years at D'Youville College for my elementary education degree. My original goal was to become a schoolteacher.

How many times has your nose been broken?

I have never come out of the ring with my nose broken, and I went and got a bone scan one time. The nurse didn't know I was a boxer, and she asked what happened to my nose. There were 17 deviations, all over, little cracks. When this is all over, I'm going to purchase a new one.

What does it feel like to hit someone?

I'm a pretty gentle person. I've never been in a fight outside the ring. I don't even know how I rise to the occasion, but I walk into the ring. To land a clear shot feels good because that is what I'm in there to do. I never had any remorse because I never hurt anyone that bad. If I did hurt someone seriously, I'd feel terrible.

Doesn't your mother worry about you?

It's a confusing thing. She's my biggest supporter, my biggest fan, but she'll watch on TV or watch from the crowd with her hands over her eyes, and she'll be crying. If I'm fighting out of town and she can't make it, I actually have to get out of the ring, all sweated up, and run to the phone and tell her I'm OK. She'll be very proud, and crying.

What do you eat for breakfast?

A lot of egg whites, scrambled. I pretty much do my own food shopping and cooking.

How strong are you?

There are two different kinds of strength. If you get me in a weight room, I'd probably be extremely embarrassed because I can't lift any weight. But then again, I can punch holes in walls. I'm powerful in the ring because I have the technique to throw punches.

What else in life have you been undefeated in?

My whole life has been school and athletics. As far as school, I was a B student. In athletics, I was just above average. Invincible? I would say my faith. Nothing can get in the way of that. I box with scapulars in my boots, kind of superstitious. One was given to me by my grandmother, the other by my best friend. I feel they protect me. They're kind of smelly and sweaty.

Are boxers dumb?

They're perceived that way, but I don't think they are. To be a boxer, you have to be somewhat of a perfectionist. I'm a bit anal, and I'm that way about my training. I want to be perfect, every day. And at the same time, you have to be a little crazy, too. It is barbaric. You have to be willing to take the shots and maybe to risk injury.

Anything compare to that rush when you step into the ring?

When I enter the ring, I'm so relaxed. I used to get so nervous, I'd want to get sick. After a knockout victory, nothing is like that, the adrenaline is so great.

What would you say to Muhammad Ali?

I'd want to thank him. He's given us so much as an athlete and a role model. I'd just want to give him a big hug.

What gets you fighting mad?

I'm such a mellow person. I have a pretty high boiling point. To get me angry would take a lot -- rude and inconsiderate people. I can't really remember the last time I got so furious I exploded.

What do you do for fun?

When I'm training, there is no fun. It's very boring. It's very repetitious. I train twice a day, certainly don't go out to bars. Do a ton of sleeping and watch my diet. After a fight, when I have a week off, I can gorge myself: eat what I want to eat, go to the beach, hang out with my girlfriend. You won't catch me playing any other sports or exercising.

If You Won the Lottery: I would continue to box, because I'm halfway to my goal of becoming champion, and I couldn't just retire because I would never know what if?

Secret Vice: My diet. It's very difficult because I love to eat.

Favorite TV Show as a Kid: "Family Ties."

Favorite Movie: It's not "Rocky."

Favorite Moment in History: The assassination of JFK.

Greatest Fear: I have a huge fear of going down in an airplane.

-- Jane Kwiatkowski

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