By Michael Marley
Fully energized by a two month trip home to Cebu, exciting Pinoy knockout artist Mercito "No Mercy" Gesta is itching to begin his 2011 ring campaign.
His long range goal?
Simply put, it's to become a Filipino boxing hero and add his own name to that of Pinoy Idol Manny Pacquiao and vibrant world champ Nonito Donaire Jr. in the fight superstar category.
"I want to move up in the ratings and then get a world title chance. I just feel the sky is the limit now," Gesta said.
Gesta, the 23 year old southpaw lightweight with a 20-0-1, 10 KOs record, headlines veteran Don Chargin's Telefutura show at San Francisco's historic Longshoreman's Hall on Feb. 18 and tickets are moving swiftly despite the fact that the opponent is the ubiquitous TBA.
Gesta is bubbling with confidence and he and trainer Vincent Parra have huddled with Wise Old Owl Chargin to plot a course which would target rising stars such as Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios, established journeymen such as Hector Velasquez and other worthy foes. Team Gesta wants to be in the higher echelon of the world rankings by year's end in hopes of a title shot come 2012.
"I had a great trip back home," Gesta told me by phone from San Diego Tuesday night. "I kept my weight in line and I got to see my Mom, my Dad, my brother and my sister and all my friends. It was my first time back home in four years."
Gesta said he's especially pumped by knowing the sizable Filipino population in and around Daly City and other Bay Area locales will crowd into the hall which was once a stomping ground for a rock band named The Warlocks. (They did pretty well later on as The Greatful Dead.)
"Oh, yeah, I am excited because I can show all my fans and supporters can be there. I think this is my year to set the stage for world title shot. I've got some good names, big names, in my target sights. I would love to fight Bam Bam Rios. I know he talks a lot but he's got some talent also.
"I'm looking to fight four or five times this year," Gesta said. "I would like to take on Rios and move on to tough guys like Humberto Soto, Ubran Antillon and more. I think I will pick off whoever they (his handlers) put in front of me."
Like so many jacked up sluggers before him, Gesta knows the jury is out on whether he can take whacks as good as he dishes them out. He sees no problem in surviving the best shots of his foes.
"I've been hit some real shots, sure," Gesta said. "I think I can take punches, when I need to. I've gotten hit and I know I can take good shots, handle them from anybody in my weight class.
"I will just keep doing my best to show everybody my talent."
Naturally, Gesta, a casual basketball fan ("I was not good at it but I watch Kobe, LeBron") but a serious fight follower, sees continued success for Pacman against Sugar Shane Mosley May 7 for for Fil-Am Donaire Feb. 19 against well schooled Mexican Fernando Montiel.
"I just feel that Mosley is out of his prime, that he can't pull the trigger like he once did. In his prime, when he's younger, he would've had more of a chance with Manny.
"His problem is Manny is in his own prime," Gesta said.
"With Montiel, he's a good boxer, really good. But I like how Nonito moves around the ring. Montiel will just go forward while Nonito will use the whole ring. His movement is so good. But it's going to be a good fight."
To a less extent, Gesta also keep track of female star Ana "Hurricane" Julaton.
"She is a good fighter and I have met her," Gesta said. "She knows me and we talk when we meet up. I've seen some clips of her."
If hangs around the Bay Area for a week after his own bout, Gesta will get a chance to see Julaton fight live.
Julaton, rumored to be a romantic interest of Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, fights in the Bay Area (Craneway Pavilion, Point Richmond) on Feb. 26.