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Parra on Mercito Gesta, Rios vs. Abril Bout, Jorge Linares

By Chris Robinson

For the past year, it seems like Vince Parra, trainer and co-manager to budding lightweight contender Mercito Gesta, has been clamoring for the biggest fights possible for his undefeated charge.

To see Gesta (24-0-1, 12 knockouts) lined up with a pay per view undercard appearance at the Mandalay Bay this Saturday night against unknown Oscar Cuero (15-7, 12 knockouts) may be a little underwhelming for Parra, yet he understands Mercito must take what he can get at this point in hopes of landing a big fight later in the year.

Gesta, originally from Mandaue City in the Philippines, spent his camp in San Diego, California this time around after having familiarized himself with the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles for previous contests.

The addition of Gesta’a father Anecito into camp also seemed to add a special kind of energy as well, Parra noted.

“It’s been good man. You know his Dad joined the team and he’s been a real big inspiration for him motivationally and it’s pushing his condition to the limits.” Parra stated recently.

“Condition-wise, I expect to see him in the best condition that he’s been in thus far and it’s good. It’s a good mix and thankfully we’re all being able to get on the same page together and I worked well with his father so I expect him to look really good.”

Gesta had been mentioned as a possible opponent for Juan Manuel Marquez this summer but those plans have appeared to change. It seems now that Marquez, if successful on Saturday night against Ukrainian Sergey Fedchenko in Mexico City as part of the HBO pay per view Gesta will be appearing on, may instead be meeting up with former champion Brandon Rios.

Rios faces off with Cuba’s Richard Abril at the Mandalay Bay in the co-feature to the Marquez-Fedchenko clash and Parra has no qualms with Top Rank giving him the nod over Gesta as a possible foe for Marquez on July 14th.

“No, Rios is a couple steps ahead of him,” Parra admitted. “He had a world title belt and I guess a lot of people could say it’s deservedly more of a shot and I can’t argue with that. Mercito still needs to get the marquee names. Brandon’s earned where he’s at. Not disappointed, we’re just focused on this fight and we’ll go from there.”

Rios’ match with Abril came in the wake of a fallout with former featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa but it is still a match that has showcased a lot of pre-fight theatrics from both ends. Giving his take on Rios’ latest challenge, Parra doesn’t discount the idea of a difficult night for both fighters.

“I’ve watched a little bit of [Abril], he seems to be a good boxer,” Parra added. “Doesn’t have a lot of punching power, but seems to have enough and he moves around good. If he can withstand the pressure, he could give Brandon some problems early. But we’ll see what happens. Anything can happen. Brandon’s definitely the harder puncher; let’s see how the weight affects him. I’m interested to see how good he looks at 135 this time around. I think it’s going to be an interesting matchup and I think it’s going to be a good fight.”

Another player in the lightweight division took a hit a few weekends back as former two-division champion Jorge Linares suffered a shocking 2nd round TKO loss to unheralded Sergio Thompson in Cancun, Mexico.

Parra knows Linares fairly well, as he and Gesta sparred a few years back, and he claims to have known ahead of time that he likely wasn’t the same fighter following his 11th round stoppage loss to Antonio DeMarco this past October.

“I was and I wasn’t, because Jorge’s a real sharp guy but I told a lot of people after that first fight with DeMarco that it was a pretty good beating he took and with the amounts of cuts and scar tissue on him, I didn’t think he would be the same type of fighter that he had been in the past. That kind of showed. It’s terrible; it’s unfortunate for him and his team. Jorge Linares just doesn’t look like the same guy to me,” Parra stated.

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