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Gesta's Trainer Talks Brandon Rios, Burns, Vazquez, More

By Chris Robinson

To say that Brandon Rios had an eventful weekend in New York would be an extreme understatement.

Rios was the reigning WBA lightweight champion heading into Friday night, where he weighed in for his title defense against Manchester’s John Murray on the televised pay-per-view undercard portion of the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito rematch inside of Madison Square Garden. The only problem was that Rios was unable to make the 135 pound limit, coming in at 135.6 pounds and failing to make the limit after given additional time, and thus had to forfeit his title on the scales.
 
The title was still on the line for Murray but the game Brit was broken down by Rios over the course of eleven punishing rounds, leaving the title vacant afterwards. And while Rios, as entertaining and bombastic a character as you will find in the sport, will now be eyeing a move up to the junior middleweight class, the landscape of the lightweight division has changed.
 
Vince Parra, trainer and co-manager of rising lightweight contender Mercito Gesta, had been asking for a clash with Rios but understands now those wishes are on the backburner. Instead, Parra has a vested interest on the vacant WBA strap as well as the surrounding champions at 135 pounds.
 
Gesta is coming off of a dominant, ten-round decision over former title challenger Ricardo Dominguez at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on November 11th, a fight that took place one night prior to the third tussle between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. The 24-year old is currently in his native Cebu in the Philippines, enjoying some down time but also training rigorously with his father Anecito, and looks to be returning to his San Diego, Calif. bases in late January of next year.
 
I caught up with Parra and got his take on the stripping of Rios’ belt, how it affects the lightweight division, what the best options are for Gesta, why a fight with former sparring mate Jorge Linares is intriguing, and what Mercito has been up to overseas…
 
This is what Parra had to say…

Gesta’s comprehensive victory over Dominguez…
“I was very happy with his performance. Going into the fight, when I was asked by a reporter what kind of fight should we expect and I said ‘An intelligent, dominant performance’. And if the knockout came it came. It didn’t come, but he did everything that we planned. I mean, he followed a plan. He may have held back, I guess you could say, but he’s getting his rhythm now.

Capable of so much…
“He’s getting his timing and he’s capable of so much that he’s just beginning to figure it out. That’s what I saw in the fight. He’s still using all these different tools and he’s right there to put it all together. Again, it’s great matchmaking and I was really happy with the fight. He pretty much got out of there unscathed and he dominated the guy from a boxing standpoint. I thought he looked really good stylistically. This was one of those learning fights and he made huge strides.”

The next move for Gesta…
“Well, things are up in the air right now as far as that. Some guys got to handle their business. Right now we’re just going to wait and see what happens. Miguel Vazquez is out there. He has a defense coming up in January I believe. That Ricky Burns kid, there’s no way Frank Warren is going to let that kid out of England but we’d be more than happy to go over there. Any of the guys on top, for the most part, is what we want. Bruce [Trampler] asked me if I thought he was going to get better or if he was ready and I honestly believe he’s ready to go.”

Staying familiar with IBF champion Miguel Vazquez…
“Yeah, I’ve watched a lot of him. He’s’ trained by [Javier] Capetillo and he’s a really awkward guy. There’s nothing special about him but what he does, he does very well. To me, that’s one of the tougher fights out there if you want to talk stylistically. I like that fight as well but he’s a real steady guy and you have to be in top-condition. He doesn’t have a lot of power but he has enough. He’s really awkward and he’s very busy. He’s one of the tougher champions out there.”

Gesta staying close to his roots in Cebu…
“He’s already back in the gym. He’s been sending money back home to remodel his gym. The house he was born in, he’s keeping it and he’s actually purchased it. It’s a two-story house and he turned it into a full gym. And he’s already back in the gym. He’s doing a little bit of light sparring with his Dad. I talked to his Dad a lot, I talked to coach Carl Penalosa a lot, we’re working on his visa, he’s having some problems. Right now, in the interim, he’s still there. He’s going to be in top shape by the time he gets back. He’s really focused right now.” 

Thoughts on Rios losing his WBA title on the scales…
“First, that’s unfortunate. That’s a terrible way to win a title. But I just think he’s a big guy and he’s growing and it just got to be too much. I think they knew that before. He’s got good people around him, [Rios' manager] Cameron Dunkin and those guys know what they are doing, and they have a lot of options in front of them. Rather than try to eke out those six ounces, I already knew they were probably going to go to 140. They took a little hit on the fine and went in there. He still struggled a little bit and it was smart managerial move on his camp to say that he’s already won a championship and he defended it so he can move on and up.”

Anything’s possible…
“Obviously we move on from trying to get a fight from Brandon Rios. The WBA belt is vacant. We’re number six I think and there’s some stuff that has to be done. Anything’s possible. I know that Jorge Linares is out there; he’s the number one contender. And that Cuban Richard Abril holds an interim belt. There’s all the belts, it’s hard to keep track. I know that Bruce and Bob [Arum] are really aware of our eagerness to step to the top level. Right now, there’s a couple names we’re looking at from our standpoint. Mercito mentioned to me what Miguel Vazquez’s status is. A Jorge Linares fight is also interesting. It’s just going to come down to what is our best option. Then we’ll just pick from there and see what’s good.”

Musing on a fight with former champ Jorge Linares, who Gesta sparred recently at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles as well as a few years back…
“They had worked before that in Vegas, about two years before that. I had went over there with Mercito and he worked with Linares for about two weeks. And it was pretty competitive. I think Mercito only had about fourteen fights and this time I think Mercito kind of went hard but Jorge Linares is a real difficult guy. And he’s fast, he moves a lot, and the first couple of rounds we had some trouble with him. As the rounds went on I think Mercito was a bit stronger than him.”

Staying in touch with Mercito…
“He’s in Cebu running around and letting us handle things out here. His ticket is scheduled to come back, I believe the 26th of January. I told Bruce and them I wanted a fight late February or early March. We talk about twice a week. We talk a lot of Facebook. Right now I’m just letting him do his thing and we’ve been talking in general when I have news for him. He’s staying in the gym, he has his own gym with his father, so once he gets back here he’ll have a good four to five weeks to acclimate. We’ll do our thing and he’ll be ready to go.”

[Reader's note: For images from the recent Cotto-Margarito rematch please visit Miguel Cotto extracts revenge, stops Margarito in 10 ]

Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected] and www.Twitter.com/CRHarmony

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Gun Fights on 12-06-2011

The burns fight is interesting

Post a Comment/View More User Comments (1)
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