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ESPN GIVES MESI A SHOT AT ANNOUNCING
FIGHTER WILL ANALYZE 'FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS'

One week after four prominent Nevada doctors advised him never to take another punch, Joe Mesi still wasn't sure what he would do next.

He still could box again overseas or challenge Nevada in court for the chance to fight again in the United States.

In a few days, however, the idled heavyweight will get another nudge toward retirement.

Mesi will be a guest studio analyst on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" this week. He will be seated next to Brian Kenny at the network's Bristol, Conn., headquarters. The show, headlined by young heavyweight stud Samuel Peter, will start at 9:30 p.m.

"It's a fabulous offer and certainly is something I'm looking into, some kind of new career," Mesi said Monday. "We're going to see how that works out.

"It's a great opportunity. I think they know I have potential in that arena."

But Mesi was quick to tell interested parties this paid broadcasting spot doesn't mean he has reached any conclusion about leaving the ring.

"They shouldn't assume or read into it," Mesi said. "We haven't made any decision yet about my future.

"We're looking into and willing to fight (in court) the decision that was made. I've met with some attorneys, and they're doing their research and looking into (the appeals process). They haven't come back to me yet."

Mesi's next hearing before the Nevada State Athletic Commission is scheduled for May 5 in Las Vegas. Five commissioners will vote on Mesi's request to have his medical suspension lifted, and they aren't bound to the recommendation Nevada's medical advisory board made April 18.

"Obviously, we'll have a lot to talk about on the air," Mesi said. "My situation is hot right now."

Mesi once took the state police exam, formerly considered going back to school to get a teaching certificate and repeatedly gets approached to enter politics.

But during the past several months he has been considering a career in broadcasting.

ESPN2 has been rotating fighters as in-studio analysts since Max Kellerman left for Fox Sports Net a year ago. The weekly guest spots were supposed to be temporary, but audiences liked hearing from different voices each week.

"The original plan was they were going to replace Max, and they told me that's what they will do eventually," Mesi said. "They gave us a comment of the possibility of more work in the future.

"A future with them would be great for me. I'll do my best at impressing them and see if I have a future with them."

Mesi always has appeared comfortable in front of a camera. He has fought many times on HBO and ESPN -- three of his Buffalo bouts were on "Friday Night Fights" -- and also seems at ease in a coat and tie. He has done ringside commentary for former promoters Tony Holden and Allan Tremblay, has been a guest on WKBW-TV (the Variety Club Telethon and "AM Buffalo") and was often seen behind the desk at Empire Sports Network.

In other local boxing news, Williamsville junior welterweight Hector Alejandro will make his eight-round debut May 5 in Glen Burnie, Md., against Edwin Algarin, a 1999 New York City Golden Gloves champ and 2000 Olympic alternate for Puerto Rico.

Both fighters are coming off bouts against the same opponent. Alejandro raised his record to 10-1 with seven knockouts by stopping Mikel Williams in the second round April 8. Algarin, a southpaw who is 9-2-1 with six knockouts, fought Williams to a six-round draw in November.

Niagara Falls welterweight Nick Casal has begun his career with eight consecutive knockouts. Casal on Friday scored a third-round stoppage of Sean Holley in Santa Ynez, Calif.

e-mail: tgraham@buffnews.com