By Ryan Maquiñana
Unbeaten lightweight contender Mercito Gesta (26-0-1, 14 KOs) has completed his third week of training in preparation for what he hopes will be a shot at 135-pound titleholder Miguel Vazquez in Las Vegas on Dec. 8.
“We’ve been in San Diego, but we’ll be checking into Big Bear November 1st,” said Gesta’s manager/trainer, Vince Parra. “I think Jose Benavidez Jr. is going to be up there with us to spar. Antonio and Israel Arellano are coming up, too, we think.”
Vazquez (32-3, 13 KOs) slipped by Marvin Quintero (25-4, 21 KOs) Saturday night in Verona, N.Y., via split decision.
“Just the potential of getting this fight has got [Mercito] stoked,” Parra added. “There’s a couple options. The first plan is to fight Miguel Vazquez though. If he comes out clean, it’s a go for December on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard on December 8th. Vazquez went on record and said he wants it.”
Despite campaigning at lightweight, Gesta, who stopped Ty Barnett on ESPN2 in August, has not made the 135-pound limit since 2008. Parra was not concerned about his fighter struggling to beat the scale.
“One big key thing was that we got on him for his diet,” Parra said. “It’s not anything crucial. It’s just doing a couple of different things. I don’t think the weight is going to be a problem at all. The differential is that right now we’re preparing for Miguel Vazquez, technically-wise.”
Vazquez presents a challenge not only with his height (5’10’’ to Gesta’s 5’7’’) but also his reach (72’’ to Gesta’s 68’’), movement, and overall boxing ability.
“Vazquez is more of a Rubik’s cube,” Parra said. “I see a guy in his last four or five fights, he’s a proficient boxer who makes you fight his fight. He uses his jab and stays away from big punches. He makes guys headhunt and take them out of their gameplan. We’d make him fight our fight.
“He’s a counterpuncher, but so are we, and we’re faster. He has not faced anybody that would tell me he would demolish my guy. He gets away with a lot of holding. His opposition in the last year doesn’t matchup to Mercito’s talent level.”
After solid but not yet spectacular performances over the past year and a half, many have dismissed Gesta’s chances against Vazquez. Not so fast, opines Parra.
“I don’t think anyone is giving us a shot,” Parra said. “Vazquez has done what he’s had to do, but I’m not impressed, and I think my guy is a better athlete. People talk about Mercito’s conditioning, and that’s fine, but when you put someone in front of him like Vazquez, you’ll see the best this kid has to offer.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.