Saturday, January 28, 2023  |



Ryan Garcia to face Mercito Gesta in January before April clash with Gervonta Davis

Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions

Ryan Garcia will face experienced former title challenger Mercito Gesta at a venue in either Texas or California on either January 21 or 28, sources tell The Ring.

Texas is believed to be the front runner for the fight, which will take place in the junior welterweight division. The fight will be a tune-up for the rising contender’s pay-per-view showdown with Gervonta Davis.

The two-weight titleholder Davis (27-0, 25 knockouts) will face reigning WBA junior lightweight titlist Hector Garcia (16-0, 10 KOs) on Showtime Pay-Per-View on January 7. Both bouts are seen as a prelude to Davis and Garcia facing off in Las Vegas at a catchweight of 136 pounds on April 15.

Garcia (23-0, 19 knockouts), who is rated No. 3 by The Ring at 135 pounds, is a social media phenom, with millions of followers (9 million on Instagram). There were question marks as to whether Garcia’s achievements would live up to his outside-the-ring persona. He has since allayed some of the doubters by showcasing his vaunted power against Romero Duno (KO 1), Francisco Fonseca (KO 1) and two-time title challenger Luke Campbell (TKO 7).

The 24-year-old didn’t fight for 15 months due to mental health concerns but knocked off the ring rust when he dominated Emmanuel Tagoe, winning a unanimous decision. In his most recent outing, “King Ry” looked very impressive, knocking out wily campaigner Javier Fortuna in six rounds.

Gesta (33-3-3, 17 KOs) turned professional in his native Philippines in 2003. The southpaw stayed unbeaten before switching his base of operations to the U.S. in 2007. After starting his career at 26-0-1, he lost his unbeaten record to Miguel Vazquez (UD 12) in an IBF 135-pound title tilt in December 2012.

The 35-year-old Gesta lost a unanimous decision in his second world title attempt against Jorge Linares in January 2018, and followed that with a majority decision win over once-beaten Robert Manzanarez later that year. He has gone 1-1-1 in his last three, with a ninth round knockout loss to Juan Antonio Rodriguez and a draw with Carlos Morales in 2019, followed up by a unanimous decision over Joel Diaz Jr. in April.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].