Bringing Big-Time Boxing Back to San Diego

Mercito Gesta during Golden Boy media day in San Diego
Mercito Gesta during Golden Boy media day in San Diego

How Golden Boy’s recent signing of local Filipino fighter Mercito Gesta and Monday’s Media Workout at the House of Boxing San Diego may spark the resurrection of big-time boxing in San Diego.

Photos: Courtesy and Credit to Courtney Henderson

After a lightning-fast four months in the boxing world, the fight community desperately awaits a star-studded fight most boxing enthusiasts thought would never happen, and still has some critics dubbing as a ‘fight that is five years late.’ With a mere two weeks left before undefeated pound-for-pound king, Floyd “Money” Mayweather takes on Filipino sensation Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao, it was business as usual for Golden Boy as the promotion prepares for three exciting fight cards beginning April 30.

In ten days, Golden Boy Promotions and founder Oscar De La Hoya, embark on a three week journey that will see recently signed San Diego fighter Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (28-1-1), who was raised in San Diego squaring off against tough Mexican brawler Carlos Molina (17-2-1), who recently began training in San Diego as well. Gesta and Molina will headline an exciting Fox Sport 1 card on April 30, 2015, just three days before the fight of the century.

In addition, Golden Boy Promotions will showcase a young, undefeated San Diego fighter named Antonio Orozco, who trains under the Barragan’s at House of Boxing San Diego, against veteran Emmanuel Taylor on May 15.

To round out the media day event, Mexican superstar and title contender Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who resides in San Diego, arrived for a lengthy workout in preparation for his difficult fight against dangerous brawler James Kirkland, which takes place May 9 in Houston Texas.

For Mercito Gesta, a young Filipino fighter who once drew comparisons to Pacquiao, fighting three days before his countryman is something special that cannot duplicated.

“I am so excited. It is different because I have my fight which I am excited for, but to also know that Manny (Pacquiao) is fighting two days later it is crazy. I mean this is biggest fight in boxing in history. It motivates me to train hard and represent Filipino’s everywhere,” Gesta told us with a smile.

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When asked what would happen thousands of miles away in his home country of the Philippines if both him and Pacquiao could secure victories inside the ring, Gesta smiled ear to ear and said, “Ah man, Filipino’s are going to be jumping for joy if we both get the win. We both need to focus hard to make that happen. Both of us are going to give it our all and make our fans proud.”

While Gesta appears more than confident leading up to the Fox Sport 1 card on April 30th, he is not looking past the task at hand in ten short days. Gesta seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the media event and was more than willing to spend some time talking to us. Now, with over 25 professional fights and only one loss on his record, Gesta speaks like a true veteran of the sport and voices nothing but respect and admiration for his opponent Carlos Molina, who he will face in the main event on April 30 at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio.

“He (Carlos Molina) is tough and he has fought some greats. It will be tough, but I am more than ready,” said Gesta.

For Carlos Molina, the past three years have been tough inside the ring. After earning a reputation for being a tough fighter who will take a fight any day of the week and twice on Sunday, Molina was put through a gauntlet of opponents that included Amir Khan and Adrien Broner.

In the bout against Broner, Molina fought well, winning the early rounds before being put away by Broner late in the fight. As Molina told us, he only blames himself for the Broner loss and plans to draw from the experience in his fight against Gesta.

“The biggest take away from the Broner fight was the experience. I learned so much about myself from that fight. I felt like I was winning the fight, but I let off the gas. And that was my fault. I even reminded myself about that during this camp,” Molina confidently tells me.

Carlos Molina preparing for his fight on April 30
Carlos Molina preparing for his fight on April 30

After a tough loss in a title fight to Miguel Vasquez in late 2012, Mercito Gesta took nearly 18 months off from boxing, using the time to reevaluate his boxing career and determine the path back to the top of the division. With his father and trainer, Anecito Gesta, returning to his corner for his first fight back in 2014, Gesta impressed with a dominant victory over Luis Arceo at The Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco.

In 2015, Gesta signed with Golden Boy Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya, bringing his spectacular record to a promotion that markets young fighters well. “I was so excited when I got the news. It is a new me, a new promoter and a new start. I can’t wait for 2015. It means a lot to have him (Oscar De La Hoya) behind me, and he is not just a promoter. He is a good person and hall of fame fighter,” Gesta said.

For Gesta, signing with Golden Boy and De La Hoya was a blessing. It is something that drives him to continue down this road and one day earn another shot at a belt; a topic the young Filipino briefly discusses, while ensuring that he remains completely focused on Molina and April 30.

“I always think about getting a title fight. But I still have work to do on April 30. Hopefully if I stay focused and win this fight I will get a chance for another title fight soon,” Gesta tells me.

When asked about Mercito Gesta, Golden Boy founder Oscar De La Hoya, had high praises for the young fighter, which led our conversation down the path of ‘when will San Diego host big-time boxing?’

After talking to Oscar De La Hoya at length, I was surprised to learn that De La Hoya and Golden Boy have plans for a significant fight in San Diego in the near future. As De La Hoya explained it, the San Diego market is a hungry boxing fan base that needs the right fighters to carry a card at a major venue.

Given San Diego’s boxing history, proximity to Tijuana and Los Angeles, and large Filipino and Mexican communities, “America’s Finest City” seems more than ready for a big ticket boxing event. Add to the equation young, promising fighters, such as Gesta, Orozco and superstar Canelo Alvarez and just maybe Golden Boy has the recipe to bring big-time boxing back to San Diego.

Superstar Saul Canelo Alavarez who now resides in San Diego
Superstar Saul Canelo Alavarez who now resides in San Diego

Despite De La Hoya’s comments about boxing coming back to San Diego on a national stage and the buzz-worthy media event on Monday, the elephant in the room remains the fact that San Diego does not have a worthy venue for such an event. Golden Boy currently co-promotes one or two events at Del Mar Fairgrounds with a local promoter, but to host a large, national event with star power, San Diego is going to have to step up.

Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya said it best in our interview with him, “if they build it they will come,” referencing the classic baseball film ‘Field of Dream’, which saw a Iowa farmer building a baseball diamond in his cornfield so deceased legends of the diamond could play the game they loved once last time. Lets just hope the plot to this story plays out differently, and a real venue comes into the fold sooner rather than later. With other mid-market cities, such as Oklahoma City, Tulsa and San Antonio hosting major fight cards, I have little doubt San Diego can’t do the same.

While San Diego fight fans await the day Golden Boy Promotions announces there next event in San Diego, fans from all over Southern California will be tuning in on April 30, 2015 to see local star Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta take on veteran Carlos Molina in what both men consider a significant fight in their respective careers.

Local fighters Mercito Gesta (left) and Carlos Molina (right) square off April 30 on Fox Sport 1
Local fighters Mercito Gesta (left) and Carlos Molina (right) square off April 30 on Fox Sport 1

As Molina puts it, his fight with Gesta is a “must win,” which is a position a fighter never wants to be in. Not only is it a must-win, but according to Molina, winning in impressive fashion may be necessary to get him back in contention for the big fights.

“I am going to let my hands fly and I don’t think he will last all ten rounds. I got the best chin in the world. I have been with the best and I will be ready. I do feel like this is a must-win for me, but that drives me,” said Molina.

For the young Filipino fighter, earning a win against Molina and starting the biggest weekend in boxing in the last 50 years would be an honor. Both Gesta and Molina smiled when asked the question of how this fight will end.

Neither man shied away from the question and both men seemed confident in their response.

“Boxing fans should watch this fight that’s all I will say.” said Gesta.

“I am going to go out there and take his head off.” said Molina.

On April 30, 2015, hopefully all of us will be saying “Thank you fellas…” And, just maybe in late 2015, or early 2016, “The Golden Boy” will keep his promise and bring big-time boxing back to America’s Finest City.

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