HBO’s Boxing After Dark double main event opened with a one-sided unanimous decision win by Venezuela’s Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) over Mercito Gesta (31-2-2, 17 KOs) on Saturday at the Fabulous Forum.
Linares retained his WBA and RING lightweight titles and won his 13th straight fight. Two judges scored the bout 118-110 while the third judge had it 117-111 in favor of Linares.
Gesta was willing to exchange with Linares, but the skill and speed of the 32-year-old Venezuelan champion was superior as he landed multiple combinations at will.
The aggressive Gesta got off to a fast start in the first two rounds, landing several counter right hooks but he was thoroughly outmatched the rest of the bout.
In the fifth round, Linares landed multiple right hands and a lightning quick three-punch combination. Gesta kept eating hard right hands from Linares, which he would just shake off and smile.
“I didn’t really feel his power, though I hurt my hand in the fourth or fifth round,” said Linares. “I threw my right hand without really putting too much power into it. I wasn’t touching him.”
Linares said there wasn’t a knockout because Gesta was well prepared. The 30-year-old Gesta was unable to overcome the sharper, more polished Linares and his right hand.
“I fought against a world champion, and that was a great privilege,” said Gesta. “He adjusted well to my style after the first couple of rounds. Overall, I am proud of myself for taking this tough fight, and I know me and coach Freddie Roach came in with the best game plan, we just fell a little short.”
A cut round the right eye of Linares didn’t bother him as he continued to outbox Gesta. A hard left hand by Gesta had Linares back up in the 10th round but the 11th saw Linares land a flurry of three-punch combinations.
Linares is done naming fighters he wants to fight. He just wants to get in the ring and let his gloves do the talking.
“Like I said to Oscar De La Hoya, I don’t want to mention names for my next opponent,” said Linares. You know what’s nice? That people mention my name. That’s fine that they mention my name, but let’s get them in the ring. Let them get in the ring with me.”
All photos by Ed Mulholland/HBO