By Ryan Maquiñana
Unbeaten lightweight Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta continued his march toward a world title shot with an eighth-round technical knockout of Oscar Cuero in the opener to the Brandon Rios-Richard Abril pay-per-view telecast Saturday night.
Both technically and physically outgunned, the veteran Cuero (15-8, 12 KOs) resorted to tactics that made the fight less aesthetically pleasing to the observant eye.
“He was holding a lot and hitting me below the belt when the referee was on the other side so he couldn’t see it,” Gesta (25-0-1, 13 KOs) told BoxingScene.com. “In the end though, I just stayed focused, kept my cool, and I stopped him."
Gesta, who now hails from San Diego via Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines, relied on a relentless attack to the ribcage to get rid of his foe, flooring him in the seventh and eighth with his weapon of choice to prompt Robert Byrd to halt the bout.
“A lot of credit goes to my corner,” Gesta said. “[Trainer] Vince [Parra] and my dad [Anecito] noticed Cuero had a really hard head, so they told me to keep going to the body, and eventually he went down.”
Fully aware that his clash would be broadcast across the Pacific on ABS-CBN in the Philippines, Gesta was hoping to put on a dazzling display for his countrymen.
“With his style, he made it an ugly fight at times," Gesta said. "Of course, I want everyone especially back home to enjoy a good fight, but I just had to stay cool and stick with the gameplan.”
The 135-pounder, ranked No. 7 in the WBA and curiously enough, No. 8 in the WBO 140-pound top 10, will look forward to a summer date in Texas on the undercard of what will probably be Juan Manuel Marquez’ first junior welterweight title defense against Brandon Rios.
“I met with [Top Rank CEO] Bob Arum after the fight, and he told me that the plan is for me to fight July 14 next in Cowboys Stadium,” Gesta said. “He didn’t say the opponent, but I’m really hoping it’s for a world title.”
Since Gesta signed with Top Rank last summer, he has been linked to IBF lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez (30-3, 13 KOs) of Guadalajara, Mexico, several times in the past. One wonders now if the time has come for “No Mercy” to tangle with the taller “Titere.”
“Do you think I’m ready for a shot at Vazquez?” Gesta asked, smiling. “He’s a good champion, but yeah, I think I’m ready.”