Mercito Gesta is still alive and kicking at the age of 35.
The one-time title 135-pound challenger from the Philippines stunned 130-pound champion Joseph Diaz Jr. before a split decision in a 10-round 140-pound fight on Saturday at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California.
The two judges had Gesta win by wide margins of 99–91 and 98–92. The third had a one-sided score for Diaz, 97–93. Boxing Junkie scored it 97-93 for Gesta.
Both men were fighting to stay relevant.
In what both fighters called a “must-win”, Marcelo Gesta overcomes Jojo Diaz in a hard-fought battle 👊#DiazJrGesta , @autozone pic.twitter.com/MkrtsOmWKJ
– DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) March 19, 2023
Gesta (34-3-3, 17 KOs) contemplated retirement after an 0-1-1 2019 and a longer break thereafter, but decided to give it another go. And his comeback fight turned out well, as he knocked out Joel Diaz Jr. last April.
Diaz (32-4-1, 15) lost his last two bouts against Devin Haney and William Zepeda.
Both needed a win to start moving in the right direction. And Gesta worked hard to get it.
The San Diego-based fighter employed a stick-and-move strategy for most of the fight, shoving his jab into Diaz’s face, throwing his share of power shots, and Diaz followed.
The 30-year-old Diaz did a good job of blocking many of Gesta’s shots, but for most of the fight, he was outworked.
That doesn’t mean Diaz didn’t have success, however, as he was able to trap Gesta against the ropes on several occasions and took full advantage, landing heavy, flashy shots to both the head and body.
The 2012 Olympian was certainly more dominant in the second half of the fight than he was in the first five rounds.
The two judges who scored the fight for Gesta clearly rewarded his activity, even though it was Diaz who landed the harder blows. The third official, Pam Hayashida, was apparently impressed with Diaz’s aggression and more powerful punches.
Gesta has now won back-to-back fights in his comeback, both against quality opponents. He has more big fights and lucrative payouts ahead of him, possibly at 135.
“I feel great about the result,” Gesta said. “We had a game plan and I listened to my corner. It was a close contest. With Coach Marvin Somodio, I’ve learned that I can move around a lot and I’m excited to have another full training camp with him.
“If I had to choose my next opponent, I want the next William “El Cameron” Zepeda.
Diaz? He is now on a three-match losing streak and is 1-3-1 in his last five bouts, a terrible sign for a fighter used to winning on the big stage.
Angelino later stated that he would meet with his team before making any decision regarding his future.
Gilberto Ramirez, a 175-pound contender, and Gabriel Rosado were scheduled to fight in the main event, but the fight was canceled after Ramirez weighed 7.6 pounds over the limit on Friday.