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Jorge Linares vs. Mercito Gesta preview and Analysis

Jorge Linares Lucas Matthysse Mercito Gesta


By Tim Royner: Jorge “El Nino De Oro” Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) will be making his 3rd defense of his WBA World lightweight title next month on January 27 against Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs on HBO Boxing After Dark at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

Linares, 32, will also be defending his WBC Diamond 135 lb. tile in the fight.

Technically, Gesta is a fringe contender at #14 in the World Boxing Association’s rankings, but he’s more of a bottom 25 guy in my view. Gesta is fortunate the WBA has him rated so highly at #14 with their organization, because I there are far better guys ranked below him. If Linares doesn’t KO Gesta, he’ll win every round of the fight in my estimation. It would take a miracle for Gesta to win this fight. It’s not a knock on Gesta. It’s more of a statement of how good Linares is. Gesta doesn’t belong in the same ring with a talented fighter like Linares. The 3 times that Linares has lost during his 15-year pro career, he’s faced big punchers in Juan Carlos Salgado, Antonio DeMarco and Sergio Thompson. Gesa has a chance if he can fight the way those guys did against Linares.

Gesta is the ideal opponent for Linares to get an easy win. Gesta is more of a heavy-handed slugger, and he’s not someone that does well against boxers, as we saw in his loss to Miguel Vazquez in 2012. Linares is being fed an easy mark by his promoters. It’s unclear whether HBO made a fuss over this mismatch. I would be better if HBO insisted on more competitive match-ups. This could wind up being really one-sided unless Gesta comes into the fight with the perfect game plan.

Linares-Gesta is part of a doubleheader by HBO. The co-feature bout will see Lucas Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) fighting for the vacant WBA World welterweight title against the 25-year-old Tewa Kiram (38-0, 28 KOs). This fight pits two sluggers against each other. There’s a small chance Kiram could pull off an upset, but it’s unlikely.


If Linares is over-the-hill, Kiram might be able to pull off an upset. Matthysse looked like he hadn’t lost anything from his game in his last fight against Emmanuel Taylor last May. Matthysse stopped Taylor in the 5th. Taylor would give Kiram all he could handle if that fight were made. If Matthysse is the fighter he was 4 years ago, he blows right through Kiram without any problems. But if he’s an over-the-hill fighter, he could lose just like he did against Viktor Postol in 2015.

Matthysse is well known and has been around for a long time, but he’s never been able to win the big one when fighting the best at 140. Now that Matthysse is moving up in weight to 147, it’s going to be a good fight to see if he can thrive in the division or now. Kiram has a gaudy record, but he’s compiled against 2nd and 3rd tier opposition his entire 9-year pro career. It’s not the best way for a fighter to be moved up against 1st tier opposition by being thrown in with Matthysse. You never know. Kiram’s youth might be eough to make up for his lack of experience against the A-level figthers. It’s not a good sign thought that Kiram had had go to the 12 round distance against 4 of his lower level opponents in the last 2 years. If Kiram is forced to go the distance with Matthysse, he’s going to eat a lot of power shots, and he’ll be lucky if he sees the final bell.

Gesta’s trainer Freddie Roach realizes what he’s up against in dealing with Linares on January 27.
“We’re in a real tough fight,” said Roach about Gesta. ”My guy [Mercito Gesta] is definitely getting ready for this fight. We’re going over a lot of strategy. We started sparring yesterday, and it went well. We still have a lot of time to work a little more. He’s looking good so far. I feel we can win this fight. This is a good opportunity for us and we have to take advantage of it as much as we can,” said Roach.

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Gesta, 30, has decent punching power, but he doesn’t have same boxing skills as Linares. This is a mismatch in terms of talent. Roach isn’t giving away the game plan for Gesta, but it would seem likely that he’s going to have him pressuring Linares and looking to knock him out. Unfortunately, that’s the only chance Gesta has of winning this fight. Early in Gesta’s 14-year pro career, he was seen as the next Manny Pacquiao by some boxing fans. 6 years ago, Gesta looked good in beating guys like Manuel Perez, Ivan Valle, Generao Trazancos and Ty Barnett. Putting Gesta in with Miguel Vazquez was a mistake.

The Gesta fight is clearly meant as a little bit of a breather for Linares, who has gone through 3 consecutive hard fights in a row against Luke Campbell and Anthony Crolla [twice] since last year. #14 WBA Gesta is backing into the title fight with Linares by facing weak opposition in his last 6 fights since his loss to former IBF World lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez in 2012. That was easily the worst fight of Gesta’s career. Was thrown in the deep end by his former promoters, who got him the title shot against Vazquez that he was hopelessly over-matched in. Gesta recently beat Martin Honorio and Gilberto Gonzalez in his last 2 fights. Those guys are nowhere near as good as what Gesta will have to deal with when he gets inside the ring with Linares.

It would be a moral victory for Gesta and Kiram if they could at least make it the full 12 round distance. I’m not talking about them winning the fight, because I don’t think they can. I can’t see them doing anything in these fights. If Gesta and Kiram could fight well enough not to get knocked out, they will have accomplished a lot.

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”I know his style and power. With the help of Coach Freddie, we’ll have the right strategy. I am hungry for this title. I’ll do anything to get that title. I will give a good show in that fight,” said Gesta.

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