Mercito Gesta hopes to keep his dream of becoming a champion alive when he fights Joel Diaz Jr. on Thursday, April 21 on Golden Boy’s DAZN card.
Manny Pacquiao is a folk hero in the Philippines. He rose from poverty to become a world boxing champion, senator and presidential candidate. Early in his career, Mercito Gesta drew comparisons to the great Pacquiao.
But three losses largely erased those comparisons and proved just how cold this boxing game is.
Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs) has just three losses to his tally, but many have counted out the former championship contender.
Ironically, Pacquiao has eight defeats to his name and is considered one of the greatest boxers in history. He did, however, win world titles in eight divisions and beat the boxing Hall of Famers.
Gesta never achieved these achievements, but who did?
Like Pacquiao, Gesta is a left-handed boxer from the Philippines. When he won that was all anyone saw – another great Filipino hope.
Gesta was a kind of child prodigy growing up in Cebu, Philippines. He didn’t start training until he was 15, although his father was a former Muy Thai kickboxer.
With a year of training, Gesta proved he was ready for the pros despite never having competed as an amateur.
“I don’t have an amateur boxing match,” Gesta revealed to FanSided. “But when I went to a gym at this boxing stable in Cebu, I trained with professionals. There is no amateur in this gym. And when the trainer found out I didn’t have an amateur fight, they thought they could put me in an amateur fight, but one fight got canceled and one of the trainers saw that I had parsed it with the pros and said, ‘You know you what You would train with a pro. Why go amateur? Just go to Pro.”
Watch Mercito Gesta vs. Joel Diaz Jr. on Thursday, April 21 at 9pm ET on DAZN
Gesta took this advice, but he was only 16 years old. He needed his parents’ approval in order for him to compete professionally against grown men as a teenager.
Gesta wasn’t afraid to step into the ring against adults. He was used to it since he trained men in the gym every day.
His pro career started off strong. Gesta has a 26-0-1 record with 14 KOs in the first nine years.
Then in 2012 Gesta took a decision loss against Miguel Vazquez. He worked his way back up the ladder and landed a title fight against Jorge Linares in 2018, which he lost by decision.
The loss to Linares sparked a series of frustrations for Gesta, who has gone 1-1-1 in their last three bouts. Now at age 34, his April 21 fight against Joel Diaz Jr. could be his last chance to gain a foothold as a title contender.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of about losing to a champion like Linares, but Gesta cringes as he remembers how he managed to draw against Carlos Morales in his last competition in 2019. Gesta feels weight and other health issues contributed to his underperformance.
“I have to take a break and then realize that I love the sport,” said Gesta. “Things happen. Keep going because my body is looking for it. My body feels like I can still move. I don’t have any knee problems. And then, after the Morales fight, I had elbow surgery.”
At 29 months out of the ring, Gesta retooled by tending to physical ailments that were disabling him.
Despite his series of inconsistencies, Gesta speaks with confidence and thoughtfulness. There’s a relief in his voice, as if he’d weathered a turbulent storm.
Gesta is also passionate about boxing. He really seems to miss competing in the ring, but he also has an urgency. Perhaps the stress of the pastime helps his concentration.
In addition, Gesta and his wife are eagerly awaiting the birth of their son.
“I just keep myself busy and motivate myself,” said Gesta. “Especially that my wife is pregnant right now. It definitely motivates me to have that first boy. We’re having a boy.”
Gesta added: “It’s a different feeling and it’s not just motivating me because of me. I think about having a son and having to take care of him and it’s just a great feeling. It feels like it pushes me to energize myself and get stronger.
Gesta isn’t worried about living up to the inflated expectations of the past. He boxes for fun and for his growing family.
“I’m still here,” said Gesta. “You know, there’s a saying, once a fighter, always a fighter. So here I am.”
https://fansided.com/2022/04/21/mercito-gesta-joel-diaz-jr/ Mercito Gesta is still here and looking to prove it against Joel Diaz Jr.