By Michael Marley
PARKER, Arizona--Mercito "No Mercy" Gesta can literally look out of his Blue Water Hotel & Casino room and gaze upon the scenic Colorado River.
It's too far to actually see 178.14 miles to Mandalay Bay and the other high rise resorts of Las Vegas but, in his mind's eye, the undfeated Cebuano is already envisioning himself topping a big card in the gambling mecca.
It's the well-defined progression of a world boxing champion and Sautrday night here, in a ring set up along the majestic river, only reliable veteran Manuel Perez (16-6-1) stands in the way of the soon to be age 24 Pinoy, now living in San Diego, and his big Vegas plans.
Gesta's pro record stands at 22-0-1 with 12 knockouts.
"This is a crucial test for Mercito, he knows it and we know it," co-manager and trainer Vince Parra said Friday night. "We never asked Top Rank for any softies, any tomato cans, and their matchmakers are giving us none.
"Perez fought (world champ Brandon Bam Bam) Rios twice. In their 2008 bout, Perez held Bam Bam to a majority draw. In their second meeting, Bam Bam stopped him in seven rounds but Perez was in the fight all the way.
"We've had terrific, world class sparring with Jorge Linares, Paulie Malignaggi, Sugar Shane Mosley and his young son and unbeaten Jose Benavidez (who is in the co-feature here, about 150 miles away from his home city of Phoenix)," Parra said. "The work with Linares was particularly competitive."
In order to get that great ringwork, Parra and Gesta drove up from San Diego to Coach Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym in a scruffy section of Hollywood.
"That's where you go to get this great sparring, so we go," Parra said. "It reminds me of the old time gyms and people help each other out with sparring."
If all goes well for the modest Gesta, the southpaw will headline or be co-featured on a Bob Arum Mandalay Bay show the night before the huge Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao III main event across the Strip at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"Mercito has to do the job on Perez," co-manager Joel Coombs said. "This is the kind of a tough, seasoned guy you have to beat on the way to a title shot. Perez, with 17 rounds against Bam Bam, is kind of a yardstick for Mercito."
Gesta is becoming something of a Filipino celebrity in his adopted home city.
Recently, the lefthander threw out the first pitch at a Padres baseball game. On Oct. 22, he will be one of the main attractions at a huge Filipino Heritage Festival in the city.
"I enjoy doing these things, I like meeting people," Gesta said. "But I remain focused on my job which is winning fights and looking good while doing that.
"I want to see my name in lights in Vegas. I relish fighting the night before idol Pacman's big fight," Getsa said.
"I can't see Mandalay Bay out the hotel window from here but I do see it in my dreams."
The Perez-Gesta fight is being televised nationally by Fox.