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Gesta to go home a winner

Story & photos by Felipe Leon

Even though he is facing his sternest test on paper this Friday, October 22, unbeaten Filipino lightweight sensation Mercito "No Mercy" Gesta (19-0-1, 9 KOs) has another thing on his mind besides the rugged Ivan "Relampago" Valle (28-9-3, 24 KOs), whom he meets in the eight-round main event of spanish language network Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate."

Gesta, who hails from Mandaue City, Philippines, but resides in sunny San Diego, Calif., is dreaming of walking the streets once again of his hometown, which he plans to do by the end of the year, visiting his native country and his family for the first time since he made the big jump stateside.

"It has been almost four years," Gesta says with a smile when talks turn of his pending return. "I really miss it and that is why I am planning on going back home."

Despite visions of homemade food and hugs from family and friends, the twenty-three year old WBO Youth lightweight champion Gesta knows there is a task at hand and that is to take one more step towards a world title. With the hard hitting Valle of the Mexican boxing hotbed of Los Mochis, Mex, in his way, he knows that his whole focus needs to be on this Friday night.

"Sometimes I needed to focus a little bit more in training because I was thinking about home,"Gesta stated, suddenly turning serious. "It does go into my mind how much I miss back home but right now I am focused one hundred percent in this fight."

This Friday's main event, promoted by Jorge Marron Productions and Don Chargin Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promtions and Bobby D. Presents, is not for the title that the Filipino holds and will mark the second time the southpaw Gesta appears on the weekly "Solo Boxeo Tecate". The first being earlier this year when he stopped Mexico City's Genaro Trazancos in seven rounds in Tucson, AZ. Many believed that the quick as lighting Gesta, who was in control for the whole bout, should have ended matters much earlier, a fact that now in hindsight Mercito and his trainer and co-manager Vince Parra agree with.

"Our team knew that we could finish that fight early but we also showed that in the late rounds, I can still finish the opponent by knockout," Gesta explained. "My corner told me that there was no more playing with this guy an it was time to do it. That round we were looking for the knockout and we got it."

"I will take some responsibility for that. Initially we wanted to go some rounds," Parra said regarding the Trazancos fight back in August. "At first we wanted him to go about five but it was really hot in the ring, it was about 104 degrees. Once we saw the guy being a little stubborn, we came out in the sixth round, I told him to get him out of there because I was afraid of the guy cutting Mercito with his head. Mercito turned it up and we got him out of there."

Much was to be desired of Trazancos' 22-12-1, 13KOs record but now Mercito will have his hands full with Valle, a thirteen year old veteran who has faced Humberto Soto, Juan Carlos Salgado and Javier Jauregui and owns wins over former IBF featherweight champion Orlando Salido, Reyes Sanchez and Enrique Colin. With an 86% KO ratio, Valle is the hardest hitter Gesta has faced but its a quality that "No Mercy" is not looking forward in testing.

"Not really because I don't want to get hit," the affable Gesta said chuckling. "We are looking forward in winning this fight by knock out or by going the rounds but we are hoping for the knockout. Anyway it comes, we are looking for a big win."

Parra, who had an extensive amateur career crowned when he served as Shane Mosley's chief sparring partner in his first fight against Oscar De La Hoya, knows from experience that big punchers always have a little more confidence inside the ring.

"He can punch and punchers always have that belief that they can get themselves out of trouble with their hands because they are used to that," Parra says regarding Valle's biggest strength. "He has to take this guy's confidence and keep it gone, don't give him a chance to get started. We have to respect the fact that he has 24 knockouts."

With a win over Valle, Gesta would be put on the map as a young up and coming lightweight. As important as the fight is for the Filipino's resume, Gesta sees it as just another step in the right direction.

"This is just another fight for me. He has fought tougher opponents than me but for me, he is not a real name," Gesta said confidently. "I respect him and he is tough but I want bigger names."

One big name that Gesta has been able to lure into the ring is the WBC #1 ranked lightweight Antonio DeMarco. DeMarco, who lives right accross the border in Tijuana, Mex, made the short trip north to Chula Vista, CA, to spar Mercito Gesta three times a week for the last month as both prepared for their prespective assignments. DeMarco is scheduled to appear on the undercard of the Juan Manuel Marquez-Rafael Marquez fight on November 6th in Las Vegas.

"I have been sparring with Antonio DeMarco and that was enough," Gesta answered when asked if he got the adequate sparring to face Valle. "DeMarco is #1 in the world and I think that he was really good sparring for me. He landed a couple of hard punches and our sparring helped me a lot."

DeMarco, who used Gesta as his chief sparring partner for his challenge of the late Edwin Valero back in February, has noticed the difference between that Gesta and today's.
"He is very strong and quick. He is advancing a lot and he is working hard," the former interim WBC champion said. "Every day he gets better and he has a lot of talent that he is taking advantage of. I see big things in his future."

"You can't get any better sparring than the #1 guy in the world for the WBC, his experience, his height, even though he is a southpaw, you can't count for his world class experience," Parra said as he compared DeMarco to Valle. "We will need to make some minor adjustments but you just don't pass up the chance to spar with a top guy like that so we are happy that he helped us out."

Besides the power that DeMarco carries in both fists which helped Gesta get accustomed to what Valle might bring, the greater benefit was the confidence Gesta acquired during the sessions.

"A lot of confidence. He is #1 right now and everybody knows him," Gesta said of his friend DeMarco. "It gives me a lot of confidence going into this fight with Valle. They have the same height so the only difference is that DeMarco is a southpaw and Valle is not. I feel very confident."

Despite Gesta being anxious of finally going back home after such a long wait, he knows that in this part of the world is where he will make a name for himself and not in his native Philippines.

"I like it here because my future is here and not back home," Gesta said. "Maybe in the future, when I am forty or something, I would want to live back there. Right now my future is here so I will be coming back here to the U.S."

Gesta hopes for a championship fight as early as next year against any of the current champions but he knows that he must wait his turn and to keep winning, eventually he will get his wish.

"Hopefully next year I get a chance for a world title," Gesta said with a smile. "Any champion in my division I will fight next year. The famous ones, Katsidis, maybe Marquez, I will fight any of them in my division if it is a title fight."

Parra, as head of the Gesta brain trust, couldn't agree more, "we will see what happens after this fight but if he keeps rolling like this, expect him to put the lightweight division on notice and be a force to be reckoned with in 2011."

"They are eventually are going to want to fight if we keep challenging them," Gesta said of the champions. "The bigger names obviously want bigger names but we just need to wait and see what is going to happen."



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