The Lightweight division has been a rather interesting one in recent but one which hasn't had the super fights we'd been hoping for. Instead of top fights we've had a mix of solid contests, and really lacklustre ones. The one man who had stood out as consistently facing top contenders is Venezuelan star Jorge Linares (43-3, 27), the current WBA, Ring Magazine and WBC “Diamond” champion. Over the last three years he has defeated Kevin Mitchell, Anthony Crolla, twice, and Luke Campbell and this coming Saturday he looks to record his next defense, as he takes on Filipino foe Mercito Gesta (31-1-2, 17).
The 32 year old champion, dubbed "el niño del oro", or "the golden boy", has long been a world class fighter. He won his first world title back in July 2007, when he stopped Oscar Larios for the WBC Featherweight title, and he would subsequently claim the WBA Super Featherweight before winning the WBC Lightweight and later the WBA Lightweight title. What has helped him to be so successful is the fact he is one of the most naturally gifted fighters in the sport. He is hugely skilled, everything he does looks incredibly fluid and he combines that with under-rated power and some of the best combination punching in the sport.
Whilst wonderfully skilled Linares does have issues with durability and arguably concentration and stamina. His losses have all been stoppages, and all against fighters he was fancied to beat, Juan Carlos Salgado, Antonio DeMarco and Sergio Thompson. Those losses have seen his chin being cracked, his energy running out and his skin ripping. Whilst he's a wonderful fighter to watch there is always a worry that he will cut, or be caught. There is also a worry that he will become bored in the ring, something we've seen a number of times, though hasn't yet cost him a win.
The 30 year old challenger has been a professional since 2003 and was tipped to be one of the major stars of Filipino boxing, with some dubbing him the next Pacquiao. Sadly though Gesta has failed to ever live up to that hype and looked totally confused and lost in his only other world title fight, a 2012 bout against the then IBF Lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez. The performance against Vazquez wasn't just bad, but it was confusing and weird, with Gesta regularly looking up to the big screen and looking disinterested, in what was a potentially career changing bout. That loss was followed by more than a year out of the ring, though he has since gone 5-0-1 (3), scoring a draw with Carlos Molina and wins over the likes of Miguel Angel Mendoza and Martin Honorio.
In the ring Gesta is a pretty good fighter, but not one who deserved the early career hype that he had. A lot of the hype was because he had debuted at the age of 16 and looked very promising as a prospect, but didn't have the big amateur career and it wasn't long until there was some flaws showing up in his performances. He was winning bouts, for the most part, and even fighting in the US, but a lot of the time he was failing to shine and wasn't being given real tests. To his credit howeber when he was stepped up he looked better than he had earlier, with wins against Oscar Meza, Ricardo Dominguez and Ty Barnett. But totally fell apart mentally against Vazquez.
Gesta is a southpaw with some nice skills and could be a test at 135lbs for many contenders. But he's not a particularly heavy handed fighter, or a high action fighter. He has a nice variety of shots, all of which look sharp and damaging, but lacks intensity and defensively he doesn't look anything great. That isn't helped by the fact his chin isn't the best, and he has been down a number of times during his career.
The best Gesta has a chance against the worst Linares, but the reality here is that Linares should school the Filipino, who may well end up suffering his first stoppage loss, if Linares wishes to make a statement. There really is only a very slim, punchers chance for Gesta here.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.