READY or not, Filipino prospect Mercito 'No Mercy' Gesta will take the big plunge on December 8, when he takes on International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez of Mexico in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez welterweight clash at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ranked No. 5 in the 135-pound division by the IBF, Gesta has compiled an unbeaten record of 26-0, with one draw and 14 knockouts in a pro career that started in October 2003 with a four-round decision over Edwin Picardal in Taguig City. He debuted for Top Rank Promotions in July 2011 with a sizzling third-round knockout of Jorge Pimentel and secured the title shot after stopping fellow prospect Ty Barnett in nine rounds last August 3.
The second of three children, Gesta grew up in Labogon, Mandaue City, and was introduced to the world of martial arts by his father Anecito Gesta, a well-known kick boxer in the country. Father and son fought together at the International Amateur Muaythai Federation before Mercito decided to give pro boxing a try. “Dahil sa marami siyang tinalo sa kickboxing by knockout, napag-isipan ko na ipasok siya sa boxing dahil mas malaki ang kita (Because he defeated so many at kickboxing by knockout, I decided to introduce him to boxing because of its huge paydays),” Anecito Gesta told this writer. “Hindi karaniwan ang kanyang taglay na bilis, galing, tibay at lakas, naniniwala ako na balang araw magiging world champion si Mercito (His speed, toughness and strength are extraordinary and I believe Mercito will be a good world champion someday).”
Gesta relocated to the United States in 2007 and has since pocketed the World Boxing Organization-North American Boxing Organization Youth lightweight crown. He is gunning for the real hardware against Vazquez, who has firmly held the IBF crown since August 2010 and has made five successful defenses.
Nicknamed “Titere” (The Puppet), the 25-year-old Vazquez is a tall (5-10), lanky boxer who is likely to give the smaller (5-7) Gesta plenty of trouble. While offering a good left hook/uppercut, Gesta tends to start very slow. While hyped as the next Pacquiao, Gesta actually offers a more subdued, if not cautious, fighting style. The Filipino will have to let it all hang out on offense or he will end up getting outboxed by the wily Vazquez for 12 rounds.
In terms of quality of opposition, Vazquez (32-3, 13 knockouts) also enjoys a clear edge. He twice went the distance and lost only on points to power-hitter Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the incumbent World Boxing Council super welterweight champion. Vazquez also went 10 hard rounds in a losing effort against current WBO welterweight king Timothy Bradley Jr. in 2007 and two years later defeated Breidis Prescott, the hard-hitting Colombian who knocked out Amir Khan in one round in 2008.
In stark contrast, Gesta has defeated mostly pedestrian foes. Genaro Trazancos (22-13), Pimentel (23-11) and Ivan Valle (29-10) are all doughnut-knitted. The only notable foe in Gesta’s resume is former world title challenger Ricardo Dominguez of Mexico, who he defeated on points in November 2011.
From where this writer sits, Gesta needs more seasoning. Then again, Gesta has decided to roll the dice in his quest for the world title. It will be an arduous journey, but definitely one worth watching.