William Zepeda: Mercito Gesta is a dangerous fighter, I can’t underestimate him
William Zepeda has not been distracted in recent days by the chatter of possible opponents he could face later this year or in 2024.
Zepeda has his sights set on Mercito Gesta and no one else. An impressive and dominant win over the veteran former title challenger could put Zepeda in a position to be in line for a world title shot.
The unbeaten Zepeda squares off against Gesta on Saturday at the Commerce Casino in Commerce, California. The 12-round bout will stream live on DAZN (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
The 27-year-old Zepeda, who resides in San Mateo Atenco, Mexico, is currently rated No. 7 by The Ring at 135 pounds.
Zepeda (28-0, 24 knockouts) has become a legit contender since debuting under the Golden Boy Promotions banner in March 2020. In his last bout on April 29, Zepeda dropped former contender Jaime Arboleda multiple times before ending matters in the second round.
The knockout win over Arboleda came after back-to-back decision victories over Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz and Rene Alvarado. The win over Diaz, Zepeda’s most accomplished and significant opponent to date, was a one-sided affair that took place last October.
After hearing naysayers state he only knocked out opponents in Mexico, Zepeda was eager to prove he can knock out opposition on this side of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I heard the comments that I had built my record in Mexico fighting those types of opponents and that’s why I had a lot of knockouts,” Zepeda told The Ring. “Then when I fought (Rene) Alvarado and (Joseph) Diaz in the United States, those fights went the distance. So, I heard those comments about not being able to knock out opponents in the United States. I focused more in training camp and I came with everything, and I demonstrated I can knock out opponents, like Arboleda, in the United States.
“I knew that fighting opponents like Alvarado and Diaz would give me more experience fighting ex-world champions. I came out to enjoy my work in the ring and demonstrated what I was capable of in the Arboleda fight.”
With regards to the Arboleda fight, the fight and outcome may have looked easy, but Zepeda could attribute that to work he put into the gym.
“We had a great preparation for that fight,” said Zepeda, who is managed by Jaime Picos. “We had three months to prepare. We knew the type of opponent Arboleda was. We knew we had to come in as the aggressor against him. We did well in preparation for that in training camp. I did what I had trained for during those 12 weeks. That was the key. We knew to attack the body and that was what led to the win.”
Zepeda will face another accomplished fighter in Gesta, who is coming off a split decision victory over Diaz in his last bout on March 18. Gesta is also promoted by Golden Boy.
The 35-year-old has won three bouts since losing by knockout to Juan Antonio Rodriguez in March 2019.
Zepeda is the favorite going into the Gesta fight but cannot afford to look past him. With significant fights on the horizon, Gesta is the only thing on the mind of Zepeda.
“We know the degree of difficulty Mercito Gesta is as an opponent,” said Zepeda. “He is a fighter with a lot of experience. He can fight from distance and he can fight on the inside as well. We can’t underestimate him because Mercito is a very dangerous fighter.”
An impressive win over Gesta could put Zepeda in the elite level of the division. Zepeda would like to fight for a world title belt, but that will not be for a while. The WBC mandated Shakur Stevenson to fight the next available fighter for the vacant world lightweight title after Devin Haney decided to move up in weight to face WBC 140-pound titleholder Regis Prograis.
Should he come out victorious in the Gesta fight, Zepeda would like his opportunity to fight for a world title belt.
“Right now, we need to pass this test and demonstrate what type of quality fighter I am,” said Zepeda. “We need to see what plans these world champions at 135 pounds have. I want to show what I’m made of. I want to win the opportunity to fight for a world title belt. I don’t know if Haney will still be the undisputed champion or if Shakur (Stevenson) will indeed fight for the (WBC) vacant title. I’m just waiting to see what those plans are and seeing what those fighters decide what to do. I want to demonstrate that I could fight anybody for a world title belt and beat them.”
Even without a world title belt, Zepeda does consider himself to be in the upper echelon of the division. He just hopes he is able to prove that, if given the opportunity.
“My name is being mentioned amongst the best in the division,” he said. “We’ve earned that ranking because of what we have accomplished so far. There are a lot of talented fighters in the division. There are talented fighters who are young, experienced, fast or have a lot of power. There’s a lot of different types of talent in the division.
“I believe I am one of the best in the division. I hope to be given that opportunity of fighting the best or one of the world titleholders at the end of this year or early next year.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]