INDIO, Calif.-Mercito Gesta knocked off Robert Manzanarez and crosstown rivals Manny Robles III and Edgar Valerio put on a show in the desert 100 miles away from their Los Angeles roots on Thursday.
Gesta (32-2-2, 17 KOs) captured the vacant NABO lightweight title with dogged determination against the taller counter-punching Manzanarez (35-2, 28 KOs) at Fantasy Springs Casino. A small crowd of more than 500 saw the Filipino southpaw use all of his tricks and speed.
Usually Mexican fighters don’t need prompting to fight, but Manzanarez seldom if ever enticed exchanges from the shorter southpaw Gesta. Instead he preferred to wait and wait for Gesta to punch first.
“I’m surprised he moved so much. I was really eager to cut the distance and hit him,” said Gesta.
It took Gesta a few rounds to adjust to Manzanarez’s style of attack, but whenever the action lagged the left-handed Filipino fighter dived in and let the punches fly.
Neither fighter was ever seriously hurt by the other, but two judges saw Gesta the winner 96-94 and the other scored it a draw 95-95. Gesta acquired the NABO title by majority decision.
“I’m happy for my people,” Gesta said, who had dozens of fans make the trek to Indio. “It’s clear that Manzanarez is tough and can take a punch.
Manzanarez was disappointed by the result.
“I kept him at a distance and controlled the pace,” said Manzanarez. “I kept touching him with long shots.”
Robles floored Valerio twice in the NABF featherweight title fight and eventually trapped the taller fighter in the corner to win by knockout in the ninth round.
Until the fight was eventually stopped it was a wild ride with both pugilists giving and taking licks from the other. Robles (16-0, 8 KOs) hails from Paramount, Calif. a small suburb southeast of downtown L.A. and showed the better chin. Valerio (13-1, 8 KOs) fights out of South Central L.A. and was extremely determined until the end.
After two rounds of back and forth action Robles caught Valerio with a counter left hook and floored the tall featherweight. He immediately got up and attacked Robles until the third round expired.
Valerio had his moment in the sixth round when he connected with his own counter left hook that wobbled Robles. Prior to that blow a left hook to the body by Valerio seemed to create the opening. It was the change of momentum Valerio needed.
Back and forth they exchanged blows with neither able to separate each other until the ninth round. Robles connected with a right lead and floored Valerio in the neutral corner. Valerio got up and tried to fight his way out of the onslaught but was caught by an uppercut that forced referee Ed Hernandez to stop the fight at 2:31 of the ninth round. Robles was declared the winner and new NABF featherweight titlist.
“This was the most important fight of my career and I took care of business,” said Manny Robles III. “(Valerio) hurt me with that right hand because I got careless, but thanks to my conditioning I recovered quickly. I had a great camp. I won this fight because I had a great game plan. As you can see, we had something special up our sleeve. After a couple more fights, I would love a world title shot.”
Puerto Rico’s Luis Feliciano (7-0, 4 KOs) battered Mexico’s Daniel Montoya (11-7, 8 KOs) with a relentless body attack throughout the super lightweight clash. A double left hook to the body and head hurt Montoya and Feliciano chased him with three more blows that floored the Mexican fighter in the third round. In the fourth round Feliciano followed the body assault with three body shots and a left hook that floored Montoya again. Referee Jerry Cantu immediately stopped the fight 50 seconds into the round.
Indio’s Luis Arcon (2-0, 2 KOs) floored Mexico’s Ricardo Fernandez (3-9-4) twice and ended up winning by knockout at the end of the second round of a super lightweight fight. Arcon is originally from Guatemala.
Photo credit: Tom Hogan / Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Promotions
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