By Chris Robinson
Earlier this week, trainer Vince Parra informed the media that his charge, unbeaten lightweight hopeful Mercito Gesta, would be returning to the ring on August 3rd in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Texas Station Hotel and Casino. Next up for the Mandaue City, Philippines native is twice-beaten Washington, D.C. native Ty Barnett, with hopes of a title shot later in the year.
There has been some definite interest in Gesta, especially over the past year, and people in the industry are dying to see whether he can hang at an elite level. For now, according to Parra, the focus is simply on getting back in the ring and pushing forward with another win.
“We’re happy to get back to work,” Parra would tell me shortly after another training session with Gesta. “There were a couple little letdowns but he’s feeling good, he’s motivated, and he’s happy to have a date and he’s happy that someone is willing to step in there and trade with him.”
Parra had expressed interest in staging Gesta’s upcoming camp in the mountains of Big Bear, California but opted to again stay in the fighter’s adopted hometown of San Diego.
“We’re turning up the heat,” said Parra of camp, which saw Gesta begin sparring on Monday. “He’s comfortable and he’s ready. He’s got everything he needs right here.”
Gesta is coming off of an 8th round TKO over Columbia's Oscar Cuero on April 14th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and he and his team couldn’t hide their excitement towards a rumored July clash with Mexico City’s Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez was slated for a return to Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas and Gesta was one of the names being tossed around as his dance partner but the entire show would end up being scrapped altogether.
And despite having their curiosity perked, Parra insists Team Gesta isn’t getting hung up on the past.
“That’s long gone. In this business, things can change on a dime and we know that,” Parra stated. “You’ve just go to bide your time. It’s progress for us. We’re in a better place than we were last year. People still want to see us step up; we want to step up but we’re going to fight who they put in front of us.”
Barnett may not be the most recognizable name at 135 pounds yet Parra was sure to give him his due respect. And if they are able to get past him, Parra sees no reason for Gesta not to go for one of the division’s top dogs.
“Like I said, Mercito wants to fight the best out there,” Parra noted. “He’s been a pro for ten years now; he’s ready to step up. Miguel Vazquez has been a name and we would accept an offer to fight him just like we would anybody else.”
Parra was also asked for his take on the June 9th Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley bout at the MGM Grand. Pacquiao, despite appearing to do enough to capture the victory over twelve rounds, would end up losing a split-decision and his WBO welterweight crown in the process.
“It was a close fight,” said Parra. “I think some of those rounds were close and Tim Bradley showed that he has a lot of heart. I still felt Manny let off a little bit. It was what it was. I had 8-4; I felt that Manny won the fight.”
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has seemed less than enthused about the idea of a Pacquiao-Bradley rematch and there’s a strong possibility that Juan Manuel Marquez may land a fourth crack at Pacquiao instead.
Parra has no real interest in either scenario, instead pointing out that only one man can likely bring back the 33-year old Pacquiao’s hunger at this point.
“I think that right now Manny has done everything he could do. He’s done things that we’ll never see done again. At this point, I think the only thing that is going to get him up is a fight with Floyd Mayweather. That’s how I feel.”
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