By Francisco Salazar
Inglewood, California - Jorge Linares successfully defended his WBA lightweight title with a 12 round unanimous decision victory over Mercito Gesta.
Gesta was taking a significant step up in competition facing Linares. The Filipino fighter entered the Linares bout unbeaten, but had only beaten modest opposition.
The southpaw Gesta was game early on. When he initiated exchanges, he was able to score repeatedly to the head with lead or counter left hands to the head. When Gesta looked to counter, Linares easily slipped straight right hands to the head of Gesta.
As the bout progressed, the pedigree between the two fighters was telling. Gesta was able to hang at times with Linares, but was not able to match his punch output with that of Linares.
Anytime Gesta attempted to mount a rally, Linares would land a series of combinations.
Scores were 118-110, 118-110, and 117-111 for Linares, who also defended his RING Magazine lightweight title.
According to CompuBox numbers, Linares connected with 171 out of 585 total punches (29.2 percent), while Gesta landed 120 out of 515 total punches (23.3 percent).
"I didn't really feel his power, though I hurt my hand in the fourth or fifth round," said Linares, who has now won his last 13 bouts. "I threw my right hand without really putting too much power into it. I wasn't toughing him. There wasn't a knockout because he was well prepared."
Linares and Mikey Garcia were mandated by the WBC to begin negotiations to fight later in 2018, beginning on Mar. 12, two days after Mikey Garcia challenges Sergey Lipinets for the IBF junior lightweight title.
There is also a possibility Linares could be an opponent if WBO junior lightweight titleholder Vasily Lomachenko follows through and moves up to the lightweight division.
"Like I said to Oscar De La Hoya, I don't want to mention names for my next opponent. You know what's nice? That people mention my name. That's fine that they mention my name, but let's get them in the ring. Let them get in the ring with me."
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing