By Robert Coster
Photo: Felipe Leon
A growing number of boxing writers, particularly on the West Coast, have been taking notice of lightweight Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (21-0-1, 11 KOs), fighting out of San Diego by way of Cebu in the Philippines. One such writer calls Gesta, “The best Filipino boxer you’ve never heard of.” While others consider that it is a question of time before the young Filipino southpaw follows the foot steps of Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire. “We are not there yet, but I can assure you that Mercito is the next Filipino sensation and world champion,” says manager Vince Parra confidently.
Four years ago, Mercito Gesta was a 20-year-old prospect with an (11-0-1) record (the draw was a technical one), fighting in the Philippines and already catching the attention of talent scouts. Top Rank boxing offered Mercito the option of fighting on the undercard of a Manny Pacquiao bout and the young Mercito quickly jumped at the opportunity. The fight did not actually materialize but Gesta was bent on pursuing his career in the United States. He followed his trainer Carl Penalosa to San Diego where the latter set up a gym. Mercito served as a sparring partner to former world champion Cruz Carbajal and was managed by Vince Parra. Remembers Parra, “I was totally impressed by Mercito and we have been together ever since.”
If you ask Parra what he considers Gesta’s assets, he will tell you his young boxer is “The complete package. He has super hand speed and footwork, throws punches like a machine gun but at the same time, he is very much a thinking boxer. I love the way Mercito sets traps for his opponents.”
Since moving to San Diego, Mercito Gesta has racked up 10 consecutive wins, winning the WBO NABO Youth world title and crashed into the WBO rankings (7th).
In his last fight, on February 18th, Mercito impressively stopped veteran Genero Trancazos in three rounds. Other victims of Gesta have been sturdy opponents like Carlos Vinan and Oscar Meza. “I expect my opposition to get better and tougher as I move up. All I can say is: bring them on,” comments Mercito.
Back home in Cebu City, the young Filippino prospect’s career is being followed by fans, boxing writers and his father who runs a small boxing gym. On a recent trip to the Philippines, Mercito decided to rent a bus to take the kids in his old neighborhood to the beach, a gesture which says a lot about the socially conscious young man. In his typical low-key manner, Mercito mentions that his dream is to become a world champion, of course, but also be a role model for the Filipino youth as Pacquaio and Donaire have been.