Outside the ring, "Baby" Joe Mesi rarely flashes his temper.
But if you want to get the 25-year-old Town of Tonawanda heavyweight angry, you might bring up this "Babied Joe" thing.
Mention that you've heard people say his 13-0 professional record has been piled up against various ham bones and tomato cans.
Say that Friday's "Buffalo Brawl" bout against 36-year-old Anthony "T-Bone" Green is yet another stroll down that same aisle, even though the 10-rounder at Erie Community College's Burt Flickinger Athletic Center is for something called the "Interim New York State Heavyweight Championship."
"What I've done in the last two years is just what every other fighter coming out of the Olympic run (has done). . . . That's what they all do," Mesi said during a recent break in training at the Northwest Community Development Center on Lawn Avenue.
"You're somewhat babied until you get some rounds under your belt, some experience at the professional level," Mesi said. "And then when it's time to step up, it's time. Right now it's time for me.
"We're moving slow, but we're not going real slow. . . . It's for a state title. Joe Frazier held this title. It's pretty prestigious," he said.
In 13 fights since turning pro on Nov. 1, 1997, Mesi has put parts of 28 rounds under his belt while scoring 11 knockouts. His shortest bout lasted 86 seconds (against Dwayne Hall at Turning Stone Casino last February). The longest were a pair of four-round decisions -- over Calvin Smith in Albany in December 1997 and Jihad Abdul Aziz at Port Chester last October.
"What can I complain about? Everything's been perfect," Mesi said when asked about the progress of his career. "I hope that by the two-year anniversary on Nov. 1 to have one or two more fights after this. And that will put us right on schedule," he said.
"I couldn't be happier with the progress I've made," Mesi said. "I've been studying the films of myself and every fight I see improvement."
Mesi said he's especially happy to have learned the virtue of patience.
"You have to be more patient. You can be in the best shape in the world, but you're still tired because you're just not relaxed, or you're throwing too many punches. You have to be much more calm, relaxed," he said.
He said he's also seen notable improvement in his punching power ("My trainer, Juan Leon, and I are constantly working on the hand pads and I think my punching power has improved through his techniques.") and speed.
"You can't teach speed, but I think that's my best asset," he said. "I'm certain I'm not known for my power or, obviously, my size. But I think it's my speed. I look like a cruiserweight, I'm built like a cruiserweight and I think I have the speed of a cruiserweight. So if nothing else, I think it's my hand speed and my foot speed."
At 6-foot-1 and 227 pounds, Mesi certainly won't win any tale of the tape against Greene, 6-5, 270 with a 12-4 (3 KOs) record. But he's not lacking in confidence.
"I have seen him fight once live in Rochester," Mesi said. "(Elsewhere) he defeated Bert Cooper (in a 8-round decision in September 1997), which is a pretty big win. He stopped Carl 'The Truth' Williams (in two rounds in October 1997) recently. He has some big wins under his belt. He has obviously fought tougher opposition than I have. But I don't think he's fought anyone as young and athletic and as skillful as I am now."
To prepare for the biggest opponent he's ever faced, Mesi has been sparring 3 1/2 -minute rounds against the Buffalo Athletic Club's Kevin Rosier, a 280-pounder who will fight a 4-rounder on the undercard against Calvin Hayen of Utica.
Rosier said he's been very impressed.
"He's got hand speed of guys half his weight. He's a very, very smart fighter," Rosier said. "I've sparred with a lot of world class fighters . . . and Joe just does stuff instinctively. . . . He does a lot of things that veteran fighters forget about. . . . He has a sharp snap punch that accumulates. It's a speed power punch where it tags you and then a couple seconds later it's like 'Holy Cow, I got hit.' "
"I'm very conditioned," Mesi said. "I think in the later rounds I'm going to be the stronger fighter. Certainly, it doesn't even compare as far as speed. Green's much stronger than I am. However he has to land that one punch, that lucky haymaker he probably has. But I don't think that's possible. I'm not going to stand in front of him and wait for it."