Ernesto 'Tito' Mercado can indeed box and just rely on his power.

Mercado remained unbeaten Saturday night, defeating fringe contender Xolisani Ndongeni in a homecoming fight at the Plaza de Colores in the tourist section of Puerto Salvador Allende in Managua, Nicaragua.

All three judges scored the bout 99-91 for Mercado, who improved to 11-0, 10 knockouts.

The 21-year-old Mercado worked well behind a consistent jab, following up with straight or overhand right hands to the head of Ndongeni, who did well in spurts, but not enough to win rounds.

Ndongeni had his best round in the sixth, as he was able to split Mercado’s guard. Mercado swung momentum back his way during the seventh round, again connecting with lead right hands. Mercado did not noticeably hurt Ndongeni, but Ndongeni did keep his distance from Mercado during the last two rounds of the fight.

Saturday’s win was a homecoming for Mercado and father/ trainer, Ernesto, Sr., who was born and raised in Nicaragua before migrating to the United States. There had been plans for Mercado to fight in Nicaragua, but when the opportunity presented itself for him to fight tonight, Mercado could not pass up on this opportunity. 

The win over Ndongeni took place less than three months after Mercado knocked out former world title challenger Hank Lundy. Mercado also has recent knockout victories over Jose Angulo and Jayson Velez.

When not in the ring, Mercado and his father run an organization called ‘Gangs to Grace,’ a program that helps at-risk adolescents channel their aggression in a more positive way in his hometown of Pomona, California. The program has since grown from its beginnings in a church to a larger facility that now serves kids who have been sent there by the court system.

Ndongeni, who resides in Duncan Village, South Africa, falls to 31-3, 18 KOs. The 33-year-old has faced modest opposition. His most notable fight was a decision loss to Devin Haney in January 2019. 

Also on the Bufalo Promotions card, lightweight Santos Reyes of Managua improved to 13-1 1 NC, 4 KOs after Jorge Mendez (5-9-1, 4 KOs) remained on his stool upon the start of the fourth round. Mendez cited an injury for not wanting to continue. 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene since September 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing