Ryan Garcia has secured a southpaw opponent ahead of a superfight with Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Garcia will next face Mercito Gesta, a Filipino lightweight based out of San Diego, atop a DAZN show likely to take place at Moody Center on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas. The date is still being finalized between Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN, though down to either January 21 or January 28.
Garcia (23-0, 19KOs) pushed for a fight with Davis, with boxers agreeing to terms on the end. Circumstances beyond their control led to a delay in getting them in the ring with each other, leading to separate bouts taking place in the interim.
Of course, Davis and Ryan Garcia both must first win before looking towards each other.
Garcia will fight for the third time in just over nine months after a 15-month ring absence due to a mental health reset and recovery from an injured hand and wrist requiring surgery. A twelve-round, unanimous decision over Emmanuel Tagoe on April 9 saw Garcia go the distance for the first time in nearly four years though while shaking off ring rust and contending with the Ghanaian boxer’s refusal to engage.
A return to the knockout column came three months later. Garcia stopped former 130-pound secondary titlist Javier Fortuna in the sixth round of a July 16 DAZN show from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Gesta (33-3-3, 17KOs) ended a 29-month layoff with a notable win, outlasting Joel Diaz Jr. in a ten-round decision this past April 21 in Indio, California. Gesta hadn’t fought since a November 2019 technical draw with Carlos Morales and hadn’t won a fight since June 2018. The 35-year-old southpaw found a way to put it all together in his win over Diaz, scoring a pair of opening round knockdowns and fending off a last-ditch surge to pull off—from a betting perspective—a minor upset win.
Two of Gesta’s losses came at the title level. His first career defeat came in December 2012, dropping a twelve-round decision to then IBF lightweight titlist on the undercard of countryman Manny Pacquiao’s stunningly one-sided knockout of Oscar De La Hoya, now Garcia and Gesta’s promoter through his Golden Boy Promotions.
Gesta also came up well short in a twelve-round decision to then-WBA lightweight titlist Jorge Linares in January 2018, ending a six-fight unbeaten streak. A March 2019 upset loss to Juan Antonio Rodriguez and draw with Morales later that November left Garcia’s career in a holding pattern.
His win over Diaz earlier this year, coupled with Garcia’s need for a competent southpaw, left Gesta in the right place at the right time for a major opportunity to begin the new year.
Depending on the final date, Garcia will come out either two or three weeks after Baltimore’s Davis (27-0, 25KOs) takes his interim bout. Davis defends his secondary WBA lightweight title versus unbeaten Hector Luis Garcia (16-0, 10KOs; 3NC), a reigning WBA 130-pound beltholder who moves up in weight for their Jan. 7 Showtime Pay-Per-View headliner from Capitol One Arena in Washington D.C.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox