Back to Basics – Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta

Mercito Gesta landing a straight right, photograph courtesy of bstunt
Mercito Gesta landing a straight right, photograph courtesy of bstunt

An interview with San Diego boxer Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta as he prepares for his second fight in 2014 against Luis Arceo, Friday, July 18, at 7:00pm PT on FoxSport1.

The career arc of a fighter begins at an early age when raw talent is discovered, developed by coaches, changed when adversity hits and ultimately retooled when the fighter himself recognizes that the best plan for winning is to simply take it ‘back to the basics.’

As Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta warms up at his public workout one week prior to the fight he is headlining in San Francisco on July 18, the idea of ‘back to basics’ shines through the gym like the warm afternoon sun. A room of familiar faces line the wall, several light conversations echo beneath the sound of a Bruno Mars hit and the camaraderie among the team creates a comforting backdrop for everyone in attendance.

Surrounded by close family, friends, and fans, Gesta appears focused, looks sharp and moves briskly throughout the ring under the watchful eye of his trainer, and father, Anecito Gesta. With his father Anecito in his corner, Gesta has taken on a rejuvenated fighting style; a style that takes him back to his younger days where the foundation for his craft was reliant on three key attributes – speed, movement and technique.

“Right now the movement is the key focus…to be able to adjust and move more inside the ring, use good footwork, speed and technique…those are the things we are working on,” says Gesta.

Mercito and father Anecito at open workout, photograph courtesy of Neil Mascasadia
Mercito and father Anecito at open workout, photograph courtesy of Neil Mascasadia

The father-son team have implemented a familiar fighting style over the last four months; a style that saw Gesta flying up the divisional rankings to his first title fight in 2012. For Gesta, power was always something he could rely on in a fight, however, it was his speed that was the missing link to the success he had for over 20 fights leading up to his title shot.

Gesta recognized that his power, while attractive to fans and promoters, was not truly helping him develop as a fighter. And as the competition increased, he would have to adapt his style and grow as a fighter if he wanted to stay in the discussion for a title.

“I have been staying very flat footed in my last few fights and was relying too much on my power…my dad wasn’t there as my trainer in those fights and I got away from using movement and technique like he taught me,” says Gesta.

In December 2012, Gesta, who was rising up the ranks in the lightweight division, suffered a tough loss to Miguel Vazquez that shattered his dreams of winning the IBF Lightweight title; a belt that would’ve been his first at that level. Gesta, who was 24 years old at the time, was a very talented fighter with significant potential. On that night however, Gesta was simply outmatched. But like any good fighter, Gesta was able to take away some key things from the very tough loss.

“After that fight I learned so much and it was a great experience…it was a big fight and I lost, but I am not
ashamed because I learned so much from it and about me as a fighter,” says Gesta.

Gesta took more than a year off after his loss to Vasquez, faced some nagging injuries and was presented an opportunity to reevaluate his style and make the necessary changes that could get him back to his winning ways.

Gesta landing a left, photograph courtesy of Duenas Aris
Gesta landing a left, photograph courtesy of Duenas Aris

With a solid record of 27-1-1, (15 coming by the way of knockout), and still very young, Gesta made a career-altering decision that he felt could get him back to a title shot – he brought his father Anecito Gesta back as his trainer.

“Most of what he (Anecito Gesta) teaches me is the technique and how to use my footwork to my advantage. It’s real easy when you move more because you just don’t get hit. It can be tiring, but when you get used to moving it really pays off in the fight,” says Gesta.

The father-son bond that boxing holds is as special as the cliché image of a father and son throwing a baseball in the front yard. Like Mexican fighters, Filipino fighters are no different in that the strong family bond of a Filipino family starts and ends with the father and son. This is apparent as Mercito and his dad, Anecito, execute what some would describe as a perfectly choreographed dance while hitting mitts inside the ring.

“When I was much younger my movement was my best trait and then as I got older the power came so I got away from good technique and movement. But now I’m back and I am getting back to having better movement…and that is thanks to my trainer,” says Gesta.

Gesta returned to the ring in April 2014 in his hometown of San Diego where he was treated to a large contingent of San Diego filling out the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Gesta was able to defeat Edgar Riovalle, by 8th round TKO and earn himself a headliner bout on July 18 with Golden Boy and Paco Presents. At the time, for Gesta, it was all about earning the victory and reinforcing his place in the division under his new trainer and modified fighting style.

“It felt really good to get the win in April. Especially to come back with a new team, a new corner and new style. I was moving more in that fight and really getting used to it. And now it will get even better with each fight. It just feels great that my comeback fight was a win and it was in San Diego in front of my hometown fans,” says Gesta.

In addition to showcasing his speed, movement and technique, Gesta also plans to confuse his opponent on Friday, July 18, by mixing in some new techniques. Gesta, who was an orthodox fighter his entire life only became a southpaw a few years ago, but feels he has the tools to mix styles and give himself an advantage in the fight.

“I consider this new to my fighting style…being able to adapt to what he is doing will only help me…with my dad back in camp he helping me become a more diverse weapon…my opponent won’t know what to do and I can take advantage of that,” says Gesta.

Gesta is headlining the Golden Boy and Paco Presents fight card and will face a tough, journeyman opponent in Mexican fighter Luis Arceo. Like most veterans, Gesta expects Arceo to be ready for this fight and he is preparing hard to secure a victory.

“We’ve watched video of his fights and know a lot about him. He is a hard-punching veteran. But still I can’t underestimate this guy. He is a veteran and anything can happen in the ring. I am confident and I feel good,” says Gesta.

Not only does Gesta expect to win, but he is also very confident that he will have a large hometown crowd in his corner as well. Given the large number of Filipinos on the coast and especially in the Bay Area, Gesta is honored to headline a card like this in front of his Filipino fans.

“I am really excited for it and hope to give them a good show. After the April fight in front of my hometown San Diego fans, I feel a lot of people will come out and be watching on television. And now, in the Bay Area where there is also a large group of Filipinos it will be exciting to fight in front of them. This is my second time fighting in San Francisco so I am really excited to do it again,” says Gesta.

Photograph courtesy of Neil Mascasadia
Photograph courtesy of Neil Mascasadia

With training camp coming to a close at Gesta’s open media workout, his confidence is high and he feels strongly that this camp went well.

“We are almost there and right now the only thing we are trying to focus on is the technique and weight. So far it has been a really good camp and we are almost done…really excited for the fight,” says Gesta.

Gesta is headlining the main event on Friday, July 18 and strongly feels that his preparation, hard work and focus will bring him a victory.

“Some fighters like to predict what will happen in a fight, but I do not…the only thing I can predict is that I am in shape, I am ready to be there and fight and let’s see what happens in the ring.” Says Gesta.

The future for Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta has no limits. Gesta’s ceiling is high and his potential can certainly put him on the path back to another title shot. But for now, Gesta is focused on the task at hand and is anxious to get back in the ring in San Francisco on July 18.

“All I need to do is put in the hard work, concentrate on training and always be ready,” says Gesta.

With all of the physical tools at his disposal, an experienced team in his corner and endless potential, Gesta knows what he must do on Friday, July 18. It is quite simple actually…Just bring it back to basics.

Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta would like to thank all of his loyal fans in San Diego and the Philippines and his close friends who continue to provide support. Special thanks to Mr. Abbas Ahmadi and Mr. Mark Mercado at South Coast and Cerritos Mitsubishi for their friendship and generosity. Also thanks to Obie and Patti Sibug (C-MAC BPS Gym Owners), Father/Trainer Anecito Gesta, Mother/Nutritionist Mercedes Gesta, Anecito “DonDon” Gesta, Jr. (Cutman), Neil Macasadia (Team Advisor), Summer (Team Coordinator), Henry Zulueta (Asst. Trainer), Juben Bogoy and Mark Avenido (Team Security), Chris Almazan (Team Videographer), Duenas Aris (Team Photographer), Tes & Neylani Macasadia, and Dr. Marc Nelson Matanza.

You can follow Mercito Gesta on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MercitoGesta on Twitter @TheRealMGesta and on Instagram at TheRealMGesta. Visit his website http://www.mercito-gesta.com to contact his team.

TheFightVoice would like to thank Mercito Gesta, Team Gesta, Neil Macasadia and the family and friends who allowed us to take some time from Mercito during his workout.

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