Mercito Gesta (28-1-1, 16 KOs) faces Carlos Molina (17-2-1, 7 KOs) on Thursday, April 30, at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. The bout will be televised live on Fox Sports 1. Gesta, a former lightweight title challenger, told TSS he considers this junior welterweight opportunity a step-up bout.
“I feel excited fighting Carlos Molina—he’s a tough guy. He’s fought Adrien Broner and Amir Khan. For me to step up and fight a fighter of his caliber—I’m really excited for this fight and I’ve been training hard for it.”
Molina lost a ten round decision to Broner in May 2014. He was stopped in ten rounds by Khan in December 2014.
Gesta, age 27, is a stalking southpaw who fights at his best when he comes forward and throws combinations. He had trouble playing the part, though, against Miguel Vazquez in December 2012. Gesta appeared lost in the bout. Vazquez, then the WBC lightweight champion, easily outpointed Gesta to hand him his first professional loss. “Yeah his style was so awkward. My game plan wasn’t working. I’m not making excuses though. Vazquez fought like that. That’s how he fights. I respect the way he is. I learned a lot about boxing from the fight, not just in the ring but outside.”
One of the things Gesta said he learned after the fight was who was really in his corner. He said some hangers-on suddenly didn’t want much to do with him. He also alluded to his promoter at the time, Top Rank, dumping him after the loss as something he didn’t see coming.
Inside the ring, he learned that he needed to get better as a fighter if he hoped to compete for a world title again. “I learned some techniques I need if I fight a guy like that in the future.”
There are not a lot of fighters like Vazquez. His tall, lanky frame and awkward style is fairly rare in our sport. To his credit, Gesta stopped short of saying he would for sure beat Vazquez if the two met again. He recognizes the strange but effective style of Vazquez as a difficult puzzle to solve. “I want to say I could do better [if I fought him again.] Our game plan would change a little bit, but I won’t say I would win. That’s the way he is. He’s so hard to hit. When he moves…it’s just hard to fight this type of guy.”
Still, Gesta said hopes to prove his worth against Molina, an experienced fighter he believes will provide him with a formidable challenge. “I’m anxious to see how I’m going to do against Molina. I know Broner had a hard time with him. Fighting someone like this makes me more excited. I want to challenge myself.”
Gesta would not reveal his strategy going into the fight, but said he expects Molina to engage often enough for it to be nothing like the Vazquez bout. He said fans should expect a fun fight.
“Molina will really engage, so there will be some times when we go toe-to-toe. But sometimes you need to apply technique, too. It’s going to be a good fight. The fans are really going to love it.”
While Molina is at his best when he is the aggressor, he said one of the things he learned against Vazquez was that there is more than one way to win a fight.
“Sometimes, you just need to move. You can’t stand still in the ring. In boxing, you have to be smart.”
Gesta said his future could be in either the 140- or 135-pound divisions. He said he can still easily make lightweight limit and that he would seek the best fight possible for his career after facing Molina. “First, I need to pass this test. I have to beat Molina. But if I do good and win good, maybe I can look for another title fight. But it all depends on the promoter. We’ll just have to see what happens.”
After a two-year stint as a free agent, the fighter signed exclusively with Golden Boy Promotions in January 2015. He said he was happy with his decision and excited about his future. “Their plan is good. We love the way they think and the plan for our future and my career. So all I have to do is train hard and do my best in the ring.”