Gesta faces Diaz on March 18

TWO-TIME world title challenger Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta makes his ring return next month following a 10-month hiatus.

The 35-year-old Gesta takes on former world champion Joseph Diaz on March 18, 2023, in a yet-to-be-determined venue.

Gesta was supposed to face American rising star Ryan Garcia in January, but the latter turned down the fight.

Gesta, a native of Mandaue but is now based in the US, was one of the most promising boxers that were supposed to be the next star from the Philippines. But somehow, Gesta hasn’t lived up to that expectation.

Gesta fell short in both of his world title attempts.

He first fought for a world title in 2012 when he challenged then International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight king Miguel Vasquez in the undercard of the fourth fight between Filipino ring legend Manny Pacquiao and Mexican icon Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Vasquez totally outclassed Gesta and beat him via a one-sided unanimous decision.

Gesta’s second attempt at becoming a world champion was in 2018 when he took on World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight titleholder Jorge Linares at the Forum in Inglewood, California. He once again lost by unanimous decision.

Gesta, who was once ranked in the lightweight division, needs a huge win if he wants to return into contention. A win over Diaz should be his ticket back into the world rankings.

Diaz is currently ranked No. 11 by the World Boxing Council. He, however, is coming off back-to-back losses to unified lightweight champion Devin Haney and undefeated lightweight prospect William Zepeda. Diaz challenged Haney for the WBC lightweight belt and lost via a lopsided unanimous decision in 2021. He then lost to Zepada also via a one-sided unanimous decision the following year.

The 30-year-old Diaz first fought for a world title in 2018 but lost to then-WBC featherweight king Gary Russell Jr. by unanimous decision. He challenged the WBA featherweight belt against defending champion Jesus Rojas the same year. He beat Rojas by unanimous decision but was unable to win the belt after he didn’t make the weight.

Finally, in 2020, Diaz became a world champion after dethroning IBF super featherweight titleholder Tevin Farmer by a unanimous decision. He then won the interim WBC lightweight belt in 2021 with a unanimous decision over Javier Fortuna.

Gesta is 33-3-3 with 17 knockouts, while Diaz is 32-3-1 with 15 knockouts. (EKA)