By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Undefeated Filipino southpaw Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (22-0-1, 12 KO’s) has sparred with former world champions Paul Malignaggi (WBO/IBF light welterweight) and Jorge Linares (WBC featherweight/WBO super featherweight) as he stepped up training at the Wild Card Gym this past week in preparation for his battle with American Manuel Perez (16-6-1, 4 KO’s) at the BlueWater Resort and Casino in Parker, Arizona on September 17.
Gesta was a hit at the San Diego Padres celebration of Filipino Appreciation Day when he threw a strike with his ceremonial pitch and received what his manager and assistant trainer Vince Parra said was “a great reception and the Padres were happy to have Mercito there. They were very impressed.”
Parra said Gesta’s training has been great and they are “wrapping things up at the Wild Card after sparring last Friday with Malignaggi and a tough undefeated Russian light welterweight. He did 4 rounds with Malignaggi and 3 rounds with the Russian.
Parra said that when he sparred with Linares, Gesta made the mistake of “starting off fighting his fight and boxing his style. Jorge is a very proficient and skilled fighter and Mercito had a little bit of difficulty in the few rounds but he equalized with his power and hurt Linares to the body.”
He said they were “ six, very high-paced, high-volume rounds and it was about even.”
Parra said Gesta’s weight right now was 143 pounds even as he said he “expects complete domination by Mercito” against Perez.
During his early training Gesta got the surprise of his life when former three-division world champion Shane Mosley showed up at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles and stepped up for a sparring session with him.
Gesta’s Parra told tBoxingScene.com/Daily Inquirer that when they arrived at the gym to spar with undefeated Jose Benavidez who was in Arizona for a media event Mosley was there with his son who is “an aspiring amateur fighter and they were looking for some sparring.”
Parra who knew Mosley having helped him in his preparation for his fight with Oscar De La Hoya on June 17, 2000 said he introduced Mosley to Gesta and the future Hall of Fame fighter “offered to give us some rounds.”
He said Gesta went four rounds with Shane Mosley and two with Shane Jr. Parra described the sparring with Mosley as “a great experience for Mercito. We weren’t really sure what to expect but he surprisingly showed a lot of veteran moves, he showed a little bit of speed and Mercito was right there with him. They traded punches and it was good.”
Parra said “right off the bat Shane rushed Mercito to test him, knowing that he’s a veteran and Mercito is a strong, young kid. Once Mercito got his bearings, the sparring session went really well and Shane showed him a lot of respect even going so far as to tell me that he reminded him a lot of Manny (Pacquiao).” Mosley jokingly told Parra he wished he would have had Mercito to help him get ready for his fight with Pacquiao last May 7 which Pacquiao won by a near shutout.
Gesta went two rounds with Mosley’s son and according to Parra “just moved around with him and worked on defense and didn’t try to go too hard on the kid. ”
Gesta said he “couldn’t believe that Mosley offered to spar with me. It was a great experience for me and helped me in terms of confidence.”
The undefeated southpaw said “I felt I could take his punches” adding that in a brief exchange he was able to “handle his power.”
Gesta said he was in good condition and precisely moved to the Wild Card Gym because of the quality sparring available and since the training is good. It also helps him keep his focus unlike San Diego where he has several friends which makes it a little difficult because of the distractions.
Gesta said he was humbled by the statement of Top Rank promoter Bob Arum that he is the next big Filipino star after Pacquiao. He said “Manny has come really far. All I want to do is to make a name for myself.”