For the last couple of years, the buzz about light-middleweight Joachim Alcine has reached hardcore American fight fans. But the vast majority of us hadn’t seen the Montreal-based boxer until the most recent installment of Friday Night Fights. In handily beating a game Javier Mamani, he raised his record to 27-0 (18) and even impressed the best 154-pounder of recent memory, Ronald “Winky” Wright, who was that night’s guest host. More significantly, Alcine’s victory earned him a shot against WBA titlist Jose Antonio Rivera.
Unlike other undefeated prospects occasionally featured on FNF, who quickly reveal they’re more suspect than prospect, the 30-year-old Alcine possesses undeniable ability and skill. A cerebral six-footer with respectable power, fast hands, and a tight defense, he’d likely be a handful for the division’s best, Roman Karmazin and Kassim Ouma, and one assumes Jose Antonio Rivera, too, when they meet.
Against Mamani, what impressed was the fluidity with which he switched between infighting and boxing at a distance, and how capable he was at both. He was also admirably cool-headed and always stayed within himself when Mamani tried to lure him into a dogfight. Fight analyst Teddy Atlas suggested Alcine could afford to be a bit wilder, that such cautiousness might one day work against him. Teddy may be right, but the Argentine Mamani, who fell to 28-5-1 (16), would not be the one to prove this theory correct. All three judges scored the 12-rounder 119-109 for Alcine.
In the early rounds, the fighters looked like mirror images of each other, as they both threw stiff jabs behind a high tight guard, and have similar long, wiry bodies. Except whereas Alcine tucks his elbows against his body, Mamani jutts his out, inviting rib-rattling hooks downstairs. (Alcine waited until the late-middle rounds before exploiting this fault.) “Winky” noted that his famous shell defense is more nuanced than theirs: he closes distance and retaliates with immediate counters; these guys just weather the storm until it’s their turn to get off.
In the fifth, Alcine made a crucial adjustment. He began throwing wide looping punches that got around Mamani’s fixed high guard. Shots began landing behind his gloves, around the ears and on top of the head. Alcine also started finishing combinations with hooks to those vulnerable ribs. His defense never faltered and his offense never slowed.
The scores don’t reflect Mamani’s constant willingness to trade, or the necessary respect Alcine paid his punching power till the final bell. He may have lost almost every round, but he was never completely out of the fight. He’s only 24 and this won’t be the last we’ve heard from him.
A proud native of Haiti, Alcine dreams of being its first world champion.boxer. He is not far from achieving his wish.
In a six-rounder, heavyweight “Baby” Joe Mesi remained unbeaten at 31-0 (25), fighting for the second time since his medical suspension was lifted on a technicality. He is still on indefinite suspension among the major state commissions in the U.S. since suffering a subdural hematoma after facing Vassily Jirov in March 2004.
In the subsequent two years, Mesi has campaigned to clear himself medically. Some top neurologists believe he is at no greater risk of injury than any other boxer; others experts vehemently disagree. And it was FNF’s Teddy Atlas who broke the story on-air regarding Mesi’s condition, and has since publicly disapproved of his fighting again. Subplots abound on this one.
As long as Mesi puts asses on seats—and few can like the man they call the third franchise in Baffalo, NY, the others being the NFL’s Bills and the NHL’s Sabers—loosely regulated regions will gladly host his comeback. His first fight back was in Puerto Rico, and a good portion of the 9,000 plus fans in Montreal were there to see him. His opponent, a local named Stephane Tessier, who fell to 3-8 (1), would’ve never been licensed to face a fighter of Mesi’s caliber and experience in, say, Nevada. At Mesi’s peak, Tessier would’ve been starched in less than thirty seconds. Now he took him the distance. Scores were 60-54 twice and 59-55.
Come to think of it, maybe Nevada would’ve reconsidered licensing the opponent after seeing how bad Mesi looked. He was twelve pounds heavier than his fighting trim, which was in the mid-220s. More alarming was his dismal handspeed. You could count three Mississippi in the time it took him to straighten his arm and bring it back. The change was glaring, considering how explosive the 32-year-old Mesi had once been. (His poor timing was easier to understand.)
Tessier, who makes a three-toed sloth seem mercurial, was able to land several clean hooks and uppercuts to Mesi’s head. He never appeared bothered by Mesi’s once-vaunted power. Judges favored Mesi’s movement and busier hands. To his credit, he threw over 90 punches in the sixth, and there was little doubt as to how was the classier of the two. But performances like these (however unfair, considering the early stage of his comeback) will not help his case.
Canadian super middleweight Jean Pascal improved to 13-0 (11) in scoring a UD over well-traveled journeyman Darnell Boone, now 10-6-2 (4). Scores were 100-90, 99-91, 98-92.
Pascal, a decorated amateur, is athletic, cat-quick, and seems to have schooled himself watching tapes of Roy Jones. This isn’t a compliment. The same way that the great Ali is said to have ruined a generation of fighters that came after him, no one should try to fight like Roy Jones—not even Roy himself. (It’s been getting him knocked out lately.) If holding your hands up, working behind a stiff jab, and obeying overall fundamentals is good enough for “Winky” Wright, it ought to be good enough for a young talent like Pascal.