Mercito "No Mercy" Gesta made the first step toward a third shot at a world title by scoring a 10-round majority decision over Roberto "Tito" Manzanarez in a lightweight bout Thursday. The fight headlined a Golden Boy on ESPN card at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
Gesta, 30, was coming off a decision loss to then-lightweight titleholder Jorge Linares on Jan. 27 and was eager to make a good impression. It was not, however, the sort of performance he was looking for. Manzanarez, of Phoenix, Arizona, made good use of his height and reach advantage to keep the aggressive Gesta at long range for most of the untidy bout.
The 23-year-old Manzanarez (36-2, 29 KOs) spent most of the fight in retreat, using lateral movement, slippery boxing and repeated clinches to give Gesta (32-2-2, 17 KOs) a frustrating evening. Manzanarez peppered his onrushing adversary with left jabs and right hands to the body but never hurt or slowed him down.
Gesta, a Filipino living in San Diego, kept pressing forward but had great difficulty connecting. He stepped up the pace of his attack the final four rounds and landed enough leaping blows to convince two of the judges he'd done enough to win. The scores were 96-94, 96-94 and 95-95.
According to CompuBox, Gesta landed 119 punches, compared to 144 for Manzanarez, though Gesta's blows appeared to be more powerful.
In the co-feature, Manny "Chato" Robles III stopped Edgar "Kid Neza" Valerio at the 2:31 mark of the ninth round in a scheduled 10-round featherweight bout.
Both boxers entered the bout undefeated, but Robles (16-0, 8 KOs) dominated, scoring knockdowns in the third and ninth rounds.
The 23-year-old Valerio (13-1, 8 KOs) managed to land a couple of solid left hooks but never came close to turning the fight in his favor. Robles was too smart and too quick for him.
A straight right to the jaw dropped, Valerio, of Los Angeles, in the ninth round. He managed to beat the count, but Robles quickly trapped him in a corner and unloaded with a flurry of unanswered blows.
When the 24-year-old Robles, of Paramount, California, buckled Valerio's knees with another right to the chin, referee Eddie Hernandez Jr. halted the bout to save him from additional punishment.