Gesta headlines 'Havoc'
Story & photos by Felipe Leon
With the recent spectacular victory of Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, over England's Ricky Hatton, its good to be Filipino. If you are Filipino and can throw a three-punch combination, then it is even better. But if you are like Cebu City’s Mercito Gesta who is known for multiple punch combos, quick feet and even quicker hands, then its great to be Filipino.
Gesta is scheduled in the featured bout of "Havoc at the Hard Rock", the inaugural fight night of Rogue Boxing Promotions at the spectacular Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter.
"The fans are going to see an exciting fight because I hear my opponent has been training hard and sparring good boxers and I am in shape so I think people are going to see a good fight and they are going to love it," the unbeaten Gesta (14-0-1, 5 KOs) states methodically.
His opponent for the scheduled eight round sure-to-be-brawl is no other than Tijuana's Prospect of year for 2008 Alain "Konan" Hernandez(14-6-2, 7 KOs).
"It feels good and it feels that this is the time that people are going to see me fight so I that is why I train hard for this fight and for me this is a big event and so far this is the biggest because I am the main event," Gesta says as he wraps his hands for a daily work out. "I don't feel pressure but I feel excited."
"Rogue Boxing is all about showcasing new and exciting talent and I think Mercito Gesta falls into this category in a major way," states Derek Pierce, president of the newly-minted Rogue Boxing Promotions. "He's a fast and very athletic fighter with excellent boxing instincts. I know he'll put on a good show and display why he's one of the best kept secrets to come out of the Philippine islands."
Like many fighters, whether in the western hemisphere or in the east, Gesta turned to the fistic arts because of a very simple reason.
"I was fifteen years old when I first started boxing,” reminisces Gesta. “When I was a kid my dad trained me but in kickboxing, not boxing. When I was fourteen I was getting good but back home in kickboxing or muay thai there isn't a lot of money so my dad told me if I went to boxing you get more money so that is why I go to boxing."
Now Gesta is on the journey that his father wished he could of partaken himself in his youth.
"My dad was an amateur boxer but he didn't get the opportunity to go pro because his parents didn't let him,” says Gesta. “When he got older he went to kickboxing but he was to old to box.”
Once the younger Gesta's tool box was filled with as much skill as the father could teach, Mercito made his way to his first school of hard knocks.
"I went to my first boxing gym at fifteen, it’s called Stonewall gym back in the Philippines," Gesta continues. "I didn't have an amateur career, I went straight to pro."
That day came in later that 2001 when Gesta earned a four-round unanimous decision over Edwin Picardal in the jr. flyweight division.
"My first fight was a good fight. I was in real good condition for that fight because it was my first fight and I was anxious to fight,” recalls Gesta. “It was almost a year since I got my first fight, I was supposed to fight but my the fight kept getting postponed but I kept working out and sparring so I was in good condition. I wasn't really nervous but excited. I have been fighting since I was a kid so I was excited."
Gesta kept earning wins along with Filipino pesos for the next four years as he fought through out his native country.
Gesta next resurfaced in Chicago, as he fought his first bout in the United States winning a majority decision over Carlos Madrid in late 2007.
"There was a promoter and matchmaker that was getting fighters from the Philippines because of Pacquiao so they brought me over. They brought me first to L.A. and then to Vegas and then back to L.A. and when my coach came to San Diego, I followed him."
His coach is Carl Penalosa, brother of former flyweight and bantamweight champion Gerry Penalosa.
"Carl Penalosa was my coach back in the Philippines and when Gerry, his brother, had a fight here in the States he stayed and I followed him."
Once in the United States, Gesta performed the unofficially required pilgrimage any pinoy fighter must make when setting foot stateside. Paying homage to the best boxer out of their homeland, Manny Pacquiao.
"All Filipino boxers, when we get here, we go to Pacquiao to support us. Not with money or like a manager but just for support," Gesta states.
Along with the moral support Pacquiao offers, the "Pacman" unintentionally draws the road map for success for his fighting countrymen.
"Because of Pacquiao in the Philippines, he is like our idol so now all the boxers back there and here have more confidence that they can become world champions because of Pacquiao."
Despite the fact that Gesta's style is much like the man from General Santos City, quick precise combinations from a southpaw stance, Gesta is adamant that he doesn't compare himself to the Filipino hero.
"Pacquiao has a good style but the only thing I would like to copy of his style is his footwork, the way he moves. As far as his punches, he is faster than me but I think my technique in throwing punches is different."
Since traveling across the Pacific Ocean, Gesta has not been as busy as his budding career requires or as he would like to but the humble Gesta sees it part of the business he chose to trade in.
"Its frustrating but it happens, it not only happens to me but it happens to everybody too. All I can do is to keep going and to keep training."
Because of the long layoffs, Gesta has found himself fighting with short notices or never knowing if the fight is going to come to fruition. A fact that led him to his toughest fight, his last one against tough journeyman Christian Favela late last year where he earned a lopsided but difficult decision.
"I wasn't really in shape in my last fight against Christian Favela so I fought very careful and tried to conserve my air," he says shaking his head. "I thought that the fight was not going to happen so I wasn't really in shape."
But now, with his first fight scheduled for 2009, Gesta is seeing the year with new eyes and only towards the future. A future where he sees his name being spoken by more fight fans as man to watch out for. But to get there, Gesta knows that he must pass the rite of passage for any up and coming fighter and that is to beat a man with a name bigger in the boxing world than his own. Gesta has his eyes set on such a name.
"I want to fight Vicente Escobedo. Right now in this weight he is known and he knocked out Carlos "Famoso" Hernandez and Dominic Salcido so I want to try him," Gesta states confident in his resolve. "He also fought Christian Favela and Favela said I was better than him so I want to make my name by beating him."
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