LAS VEGAS – Mercito Gesta takes on the biggest fight of his life when he challenges for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight title against champion Miguel Vazquez of Mexico Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) at the MGM Grand.
The fight, set for 12 rounds, serves as the major undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez welterweight showdown.
The 25-year-old fighter nicknamed `No Mercy’ is still unbeaten with a 26-0-1 record including 14 KOs. A native of Mandaue City, Cebu, but now based in San Diego, California, Gesta won three of his last five fights via knockouts.
A deadly southpaw, Gesta easily reminds one of a young and raw Manny Pacquiao.
But he enters the ring as the prohibitive underdog against the reigning champion who is making the seventh defense of the title belt he first won in 2010 with a 12-round unanimous decision over Kim Ji Hoon.
The sleek-moving but less-engaging Mexican from Guadalajara sports a record of 32-3, with 13 KOs.
Both the champion and challenger made the limit, with Gesta tipping in at 134 and Vazquez at 135.
Gesta is one of four Filipinos fighting in the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard.
Veteran Michael Farenas, a protégé of former two-time world champion Gerry Penalosa, will have his hands full as he engages former Olympic gold medalist and world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Although the native of Gubat, Sorsogon packs a wallop with his ring record of 34-3-1 (26 KOs), he will be up against a talented 30-year-old Cuban who remains undefeated in 21 fights – 16 of them by KOs.
Both Gamboa and Farenas weighed in at exactly 130. The champion was accompanied by rap star 50 Cent, while beside Farenas was Penalosa.
Seeing action in the preliminaries are Ernie Sanchez and Dodie Boy Penalosa Jr.
Sanchez (13-3, 5 KOs) of General Santos City, squares off with Coy Evans (10-1-1, 2 KOs), while Penalosa (9-0, 9 KOs), son of former two-time world champion and namesake Dodie Boy, clashes with Jesus Lule Raya (6-4, 1 KO)
Sanchez tipped the scales at 127 while Evans was a shade lighter at 126.5. Penalosa made it at 123.5, while Raya at 124.