There was a time, and if it feels like a long time ago now it’s because it kind of is, but there was a time when Mercito Gesta was considered one of the young guns to watch in boxing. Saturday night, with a win over former titlist and Olympian Joseph Diaz, Gesta snared what might be the biggest win of a twenty year career.

Twenty years?

Yes, Gesta has really been around that long and is still only 35. It doesn’t mean everyone will agree with the decision on Saturday. Scores varied wildly with Diaz winning wide on one card and Gesta wide on two others. None of the cards felt right and raised red flags about judging assignments in California (again). It felt like a close fight at the end though and it may be a case where judges just split on what the closeness of it all meant. 

Gesta, a fighter who was often guilty of not letting his hands go at critical points in his career, has been fighting with more verve in his return to the sport. He let them go enough against Diaz, didn’t wilt when it looked like Diaz had him in trouble, and made it two wins in a row. It’s a long way from where Gesta was after a stoppage loss in 2019 to Juan Antonio Rodriguez.

Gesta took all of the last three years off and has resumed his career with solid consecutive wins over Joel Diaz and now Joseph Diaz. Can he be a real contender again?

He’s in a better spot than he would have been in defeat and that keeps his comeback interesting on a weekend that felt like a calm before a storm of action kicks off in mere days.   

Futures: Diaz was ranked just outside the top ten by the WBC heading into this lightweight-ish affair and one can presume Gesta will now take a step toward contention in the division. When he got a crack at the lightweight title in 2012, losing wide against Miguel Vazquez, it took roughly six years to get a second chance.

Gesta’s challenge of Jorge Linares in 2018 didn’t go much better. Gesta’s chances of winning a lightweight belt right now are slim. Nothing Saturday indicated a threat to the winner of Devin Haney-Vasyl Lomachenko. That said, a Haney win in May could end up being Haney’s farewell to the class. The lightweight title picture could open up in a big way in the next twelve months. Can Gesta add an unlikely accolade when he was supposed to be a memory in the sport?

It’s a fun side story in boxing for now.

For Diaz, defeat is a disaster. With legal troubles reported for Diaz outside the ring, his 1-3-1 mark in five starts might not leave him much space to move for a while. The best thing as a competitor for Diaz might be the sort of time away Gesta took. He might need time away for issues bigger than the ring as well.

Cliff’s Notes…

So the WBA says April Fool’s Day is the final deadline for Fury-Usyk to sign, seal, and deliver their unification clash. This is all supposed to culminate on April 29, right? We’ll see…Jarrell Miller’s comeback might be interesting to some. It’s not here…Gilberto Ramirez not making weight might have been the biggest win for Gabriel Rosado’s long term health the veteran has ever scored…Next weekend is one of the most packed boxing dates of the year. Enjoy.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at