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Mesi the boxing fan

   Joe Mesi said Tuesday night that sometimes it feels strange watching boxing.

   But that won't prevent him from supporting the return of professional boxing to the Queen City on Friday Night when X-Cel Worldwide Promotions holds its eight-card event in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

   The former world No.‚1 heavyweight contender will be among the fans in attendance for the first professional card in Buffalo since Sept. 27, 2003. For the record, Mesi headlined that event -- the last time the Tonawandan fought in his hometown as brain bleeds he suffered in a March 2004 win over Vassily Jirov keeps him from getting a boxing license in New York State -- thereby preventing him from fighting in his own backyard unless it's in the political ring.

   More than 12,000 fans filled HSBC Arena three times to see Mesi box and while he was at a different stage of his career in those fights, he believes people will check out Friday's event, which will feature the debuts of Buffalo's Lionell Thompson and Greg Brady and Niagara Falls' Johnnie Davis. Sweet Home graduate and 41-year-old heavyweight Paul Marinaccio also will likely be making his final ring appearance in his seven-year career.

   "I was successful in this city because people love their sports and they love to see one of their own," said Mesi. "This show could be for true boxing fans that want to see local kids."

   So, will the people come out and see the new kids on the block?

   For ticket information, visit championsofboxing.com.

   ---Miguel Rodriguez

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