By Ryan Maquiñana
On November 11, a double feature will hit Las Vegas, as lightweight Mercito Gesta faces Ricardo Dominguez while junior lightweight Diego Magdaleno meets Emmanuel Lucero.
The news was confirmed by Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler.
The card takes place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, the same site that will host the third fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez one day later.
Gesta (23-0-1, 12 KOs), from Mandaue City, Phil., but now based in San Diego, meets Dominguez (34-7-2, 21 KOs), a native of Culiacan, Mex., now living in Tuscon, Ariz.
While Gesta is coming off a rugged decision victory over Manuel Perez two weeks ago where he braved through a cut, Dominguez has won eight out of his last 10 fights, with the only two defeats being unsuccessful world title challenges against IBF champ Miguel Vazquez and WBC champ Humberto Soto, both of whom he took the distance.
Dominguez also fought Brandon Rios to a split decision loss in 2008.
“It’s a step up, and I feel great that it’s only a day apart from Manny’s fight,” the 23-year-old Gesta told BoxingScene. “A lot of people are going to notice me here in America and the Philippines, and it helps my career.
“I’m so excited. I already started roadwork and running. I haven’t seen any video on [Dominguez] yet. Maybe next week I’ll be able to study his style.”
His manager and trainer, Vince Parra, commented on the announcement.
“It’s a great measuring stick to see where Mercito is,” Parra said. “We’re looking forward to this and it’s going to be his coming-out fight. Mercito’s excited to fight the night before Manny and represent the Philippines. Hopefully, he looks impressive and gets a shot at [WBA champ] Brandon Rios next year if he stays at 135.”
Meanwhile, Magdaleno (20-0, 7 KOs) returns to his hometown to fight Lucero (26-7-1, 14 KOs), a veteran from Scranton, Pa., via Mexico City who was recently stopped by Yuandale Evans on ESPN2 in the same month.
Lucero challenged then-IBF junior featherweight champ Manny Pacquiao in 2003 on HBO in an early-round stoppage loss. He has also shared a ring with Daniel Ponce De Leon, Rocky Juarez, and Jason Litzau.
“We definitely see it as a step up in competition. Lucero’s been in there with some big names and world-class fighters like Pacquiao,” said Pat Barry, Magdaleno’s trainer and manager. “It’s going to keep Diego motivated and busy. I think he’s shown the skills to become a world champion. Top Rank does a fabulous job bringing in the right people for him that are going to test him and develop his skills.”
The 24-year-old Magdaleno is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Alejandro Perez on ShoBox in July.
“As far as lessons Diego learned from the Perez fight, I think the importance of being in top shape because anything in the ring can happen with a big puncher,” Barry said. “I think his boxing skills were the difference and he was able to take over.
“Moving forward to this one, Augie Sanchez has been working diligently with Diego as well in our corner. He brings a lot of experience to the table, and we will have the best gameplan for November 11.”
Magdaleno chimed in with his take on Lucero.
“He’s a slugger,” the unbeaten 130-pounder said. “He’s a very durable guy. I just have to fight smart. He fought a southpaw in his last fight, and I saw a couple flaws that I think I can exploit. For me, it’s a matter of staying on my A-game and pulling out another victory."
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He’s a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at www.maqdown.com or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.