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Back in the saddle, Mercito Gesta is raring to go

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Thursday, April 10th, at 2:00 p.m. the 14 boxers scheduled to fight on the Friday, April 11, 2014 Boxing Card at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the latest installment of "Ringside at Del Mar", will weigh in at the Plaza Bonita Mall at O's American Kitchen (east side of mall), 3030 Plaza Bonita Rd., National City, CA 91950.

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Immediately following the weigh-ins, there will be a press conference plus a meet and greet session with the public. Why all the fanfare?

It’s because of the gentleman in the Main Event, 26 year-old, southpaw, super lightweight Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta, who is making his return to the ring after a one year, four month and four day, soul searching layoff. His opponent, 27 year-old Edgar “Basuras” Riovalle of Mexico City, Mexico (37-17-2) with his awesome 26 KOs, better be ready.

Of course he will. Riovalle has been a workhorse for 10 years and it’s likely he's never considered taking time off. Just like his nickname indicates, “Basuras” translation “Trash” is a brawler who will go nonstop against Gesta.

This past Saturday, Gesta, the show’s headliner, held a public workout at the family’s gym off Miramar Road, and also made guest appearances at a local USA Amateur Boxing show, the Filipino Sun Festival and at the popular Seafood City Supermarket in Chula Vista.

Gesta is a hands on, meet and greet celebrity type who like Manny Pacquiao has a warm heart, a warrior who has been embraced by his Filipino brethren.

So what did happen in Mercito Gesta’s last bout?

Gesta fought Miguel Vazquez (34-3-0, 13 KOs), the elusive IBF World Lightweight Champion and lost decidedly after he landed only 61 punches, connecting on just 18% of the punches thrown. With his opponent landing three times as many punches, the judges had him winning most every round.

With Gesta’s face being splattered across six of the seven continents, the match being a pay-per-view televised world title bout on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez IV and having your boss, promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, sitting right there at ringside, you knew something bad was going to happen.

While watching on TV, you could almost read Arum’s mind, ‘Note to self, tomorrow, first thing, we rip up this kid’s contract.”

This is when the riffraff of sports journalism, self included, revisit the earlier Arum prophecies, boasts and expose them for what they are - pure, unadulterated bunk, nonsense.

“I want this kid to fight for a title, maybe before year’s end,” a glowing Bob Arum said in the ring after Gesta’s first bout under the new promotional contract. “I don’t want to be too ethnic but he’s the next (Manny) Pacquiao.”

Arum would make similar remarks at each post fight press conference and Gesta would often blush at this effusive praise.

Arum: “Frankly, besides being fighters, Filipinos and aggressive southpaws, Pinoy Idol Pacquiao and former Muay Thai style boxer Gesta could not be more different. Gesta has nifty hand speed and some slick footwork that Pacquiao, at the same age, did not have. It’s only been in recent years that Pacman has been floating like a butterfly while always stinging like a bee.

“It’s no stretch to state that, at a similar stage of pro ring development, Gesta is the more polished product. Don’t forget that we’re talking the pre-Freddie Roach version of Pacquiao.”

Gesta, who resides in San Diego after growing up in Mandaue City in the Cebu province of the Philippines, is eager to prove to everyone, including Top Rank, that he still has that fire in his belly. He needs to prove that the Vazquez fiasco was a mirage. And so, the Edgar Riovalle fight becomes the first hurdle in that quest.

Quotes from our principles, first Mercito Gesta: "The time is right to get back in the ring and show the world I can still compete at the championship level. I'm ready for anyone they put in front of me. I've had time to reflect on my loss to Miguel Vasquez, which was a great learning experience, and have vowed to come back stronger than ever.

"San Diego is my second home. So I'm super excited to be making my return to the ring at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. All my family and friends can come and see me fight. I want to thank all the promoters who are putting this fight card together. Believe me, "No Mercy" is back!"

Promoter Andy Perez, president of A&T GYM: "Every card has been great since we started the “Ringside at Del Mar” Boxing Series last year, but this one is shaping up to be the strongest card to date. The response from the San Diego fans has been overwhelming. We have a great passion to grow the series and bring world class fights that showcase the sport’s best rising talent in a legendary venue like the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds offers us a first-rate environment where you can bring the entire family to enjoy a great night of boxing."

Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Robert Diaz: “This is a new beginning, a new team, and a new Mercito Gesta. A loss does not end a career. How a fighter responds to adversity helps define the makings of a true champion. If he can put together a few good victories, he'll be right back in the mix to challenge any of the current lightweight world champions.”

Advance tickets for "Ringside at Del Mar" are $25 (General Admission), $55 (Ringside), $75 (VIP Table eating), and $100 (limited Apron seats). Tickets can be purchased online via Ticketmaster, at www.RingsideatDelMar.com, by phone at (858) 755-1161, or in person at the Del Mar Fairgrounds ticket office. The "Ringside at Del Mar" live boxing event is sponsored in part by 7UP, Joel Diaz Training Camp, MyAttorney911, Virtual Tax Solutions, Rincon Del Mar, Mi Familia Market, and El Latino Newspaper.

The Del Mar Fairgrounds is located at 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. in Del Mar. Doors open at 7 p.m. The evenings first of seven bouts is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

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