Gesta Toughs Out Win in Indio
By Marc Livitz
Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta zigged and zagged his way to the vacant WBO NABO lightweight title with a tight majority decision win over Robert Manzanarez on Thursday evening at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, California.
Gesta (32-2-2, 17 KO’s) was last seen in January, when he was dealt a wide unanimous decision defeat by Jorge Linares on HBO in Los Angeles. His efforts tonight in Indio was just the rebound he needed as he not only gained an important victory, but snapped the 15-fight win streak of Robert Manzanarez as well.
Early on, there was little which separated the fighters, as southpaw Gesta tried to move inward and avoid the jab of his Los Mochis, Sinaloa opponent. Mercito was a bit more active in the second. He looked as if he was waiting to time and negate Robert’s jab in an attempt to connect with his left hook. “Tito” Manzanarez (36-2, 29 KO’s), though equal in height to his Filipino adversary, still held a three inch upper hand in terms of reach, which he looked to exhibit in the closing moments. He’d developed a tendency to tie up whenever Gesta got too close for his liking, as was the case throughout much of the third.
Mercito was willing to take the chance of sliding his outside foot inward, which allowed him to land various shots close in. Manzanarez swung wide in bunches in round four as he looked to find a way around Gesta’s forward movement. When he came out for the fifth, he looked to put his jab to work, which at times meant Mercito could counter with his left hook to the head. To add insult, Robert couldn’t get the hint that dropping his jab glove was leaving an open target for Gesta.
Manzanarez fired away at the body in a few spots of round six, yet he continued to lower his left hand as well as lean inward, as if to almost stare at Mercito, who landed more punches over his guard. Finally in the seventh, Robert adjusted his stance and utilized his range advantage to effectively jab away at Gesta, which allowed him to connect with his right hook on a few occasions. Though originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Manzanarez now calls Mexico home and had fought all but three of his professional contests there. Shots were traded to close out the eighth round.
With two rounds to go, the chess match style of fight had certainly put the boxer in front of the slugger and in the ninth, Gesta landed a few looping punches to the head of his Mexican foe. As the bell rang to lead into the tenth and final three minute period, the ringside judges may indeed have had to choose between accuracy and volume.
Gesta and Manzanarez exchanged a touch of gloves to begin the last round. Their actions told observers that they’d waited more than half an hour to see a less than tactical approach. Robert looked to counter Mercito’s steps and move away from his left hand. The bell sounded to end the night and the judges would hold the decision. They read as follows: 96-94 (Pat Russell and Max DeLuca) and 95-95 (Zachary Young) to award the majority decision to Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta.
Additional Results from Indio
Manny Robles III TKO 9 Edgar Valerio - vacant NABF Featherweight Title
Luis Feliciano KO 4 Daniel Montoya - Super Lightweight