icon Updated at 01:12 PM EST, Thu Jan 25, 2018

Gesta: Linares Overlooking Me, But I'm Ready to Give Him a War

By Keith Idec

Mercito Gesta gets the sense Jorge Linares isn’t taking him all that seriously.

Gesta has heard and read about Linares discussing a lightweight title unification fight against Mikey Garcia later this year. It’s as if, according to Gesta, that Linares thinks their fight Saturday night in Inglewood, California, won’t be difficult for him at all.

Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs), of San Clemente, California, is listed as 50-1 underdog by several Internet sports books entering their 12-round fight for Linares’ WBA lightweight title at The Forum.

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“I feel like that’s what it is,” Gesta told BoxingScene.com regarding Linares taking him lightly. “He’s been talking already about a different opponent. If that’s the case, that’ll benefit me because he’s overlooking me. I don’t know about his training, if he is taking it serious, because I’m taking it serious. I’m the challenger and I want that belt so bad. I hope he’s ready, because I’m ready to give a war in the ring. I feel really amazing.”

Venezuela’s Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) will face a southpaw for a second straight fight. He dropped England’s Luke Campbell (17-2, 14 KOs) in the second of his last bout, but Campbell came back to test Linares, who won a split decision September 23 at The Forum.

Gesta lost a one-sided unanimous decision to Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez in his first world title fight in December 2012. The Filipino southpaw is much more of an underdog in his second championship match, but he feels more prepared, mentally and physically, this time around, especially since he is no longer being billed as the next Manny Pacquiao.

Gesta’s loss to Vazquez took place on the undercard of Pacquiao’s sixth-round knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.

“I love to be the underdog,” Gesta said. “I feel like there’s less pressure. The first time I fought for the title, even though I was the challenger, they were trying to make a lot of people think that, ‘Oh, he’s gonna be the next Manny.’ There was pressure from that because they wanted a lot from me, that I would do good in the ring against Vazquez. But this time around, I feel good. I’m the underdog. I don’t have to care about people thinking I can [be the next Pacquiao]. I’m doing this for myself. I feel great. Being the underdog, I feel good because there’s no pressure on me.”

HBO will televise Linares-Gesta as the opener of a “Boxing After Dark” doubleheader Saturday night at 10:30 p.m. ET. In the main event, Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs, 1 NC) will face Thailand’s Tewa Kiram (38-0, 28 KOs) for the vacant WBA world welterweight title.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.