Wednesday, April 17, 2024  |


Tito Mercado feels he’s a contender now, wants fights with Arnold Barboza, Shakur Stevenson

Junior welterweight prospect Ernesto "Tito" Mercado. (Twitter: @realtitomercado)
Fighters Network

It has been all aces for Tito Mercado.

The unbeaten Mercado has passed every test thus far in his pro career.

Mercado, a finalist for the 2023 Ring Magazine Prospect of the Year award, hopes to keep the momentum going from a successful 2023 campaign as he faces Deiner Berrio of Colombia Friday night at the Red Owl Boxing Arena in Houston, Texas. The 10-round fight will headline a seven-bout card that will stream live on DAZN (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT). 

The 22-year-old (14-0, 13 knockouts), who resides in Pomona, last fought on February 24 in Tijuana, Mexico, knocking out Cristian Bielma in the second round. 

In his previous fight on November 11, Mercado knocked out former fringe contender Jeremia Nakathila in the second round. Mercado has attributed many factors to his success, thus far.

“Last year, I had five fights and it was beneficial to me,” Mercado told The Ring in a recent phone interview. “I hope to fight five times this year, at least four. I know that depends on outcomes of fights, and if cuts are involved. I just want to get rounds in to develop, so I hope I could fight a minimum of four fights this year.”

Including the fight against Nakathila, Mercado notched a knockout win over former world title challenger Henry ‘Hank’ Lundy. Mercado believes activity is an asset in his young career, and hopes to be as active in 2024.

The knockout win over Nakathila opened eyes to boxing fans and media. Nakathila fought 12 rounds in a decision loss to WBC world lightweight titleholder Shakur Stevenson in June 2021 and stopped Miguel Berchelt over nine months later. Nakathila was stopped by Raymond Muratalla on May 20. 

Mercado believes the matchmaking in his career has been spot on, but states the way he goes about dominating his opposition speaks volumes over others who have faced Nakathila and other opponents.

“(The way I win) shows a lot,” said Mercado. “It’s the little things, from the preparation to the results. Nakathila went 12 rounds with Shakur. He stops Berchelt. Not a lot of fighters can say they’ve done what I’ve accomplished thus far. The results show a lot, including the way I go about the fights.”

Mercado’s accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. Mercado was a finalist to The Ring’s ‘Prospect of the Year’ award, which was won by Bruce Carrington. 

He is grateful for the recognition, but Mercado believes he has moved on to become a contender in the division. Mercado is eager to face the best at 140 pounds.

“I believe I’m a contender now. Based on the guys I’ve fought and who I want to fight, it will be a matter of time for me to be in the top 10. I would love for guys like (contender) Arnold Barboza and for him to [say] yes when I call him out.

“For me to have accomplished what I have done is great. My team, including my Dad, have done a great job. Winning ‘Prospect of the Year’ was great. The recognition was great. To do this without a promoter is amazing. Not a lot of fighters have done what I have accomplished. I have a lot of love for the sport. I really want to show what I’m all about.”

One fighter Mercado wanted to fight was Stevenson, who announced his retirement earlier this year, but is penciled to return to the ring in July. 

Mercado would like an opportunity to face Stevenson, but is not holding his breath. Mercado will move forward with his career, and if making a statement at the expense of Berrio (22-4-1, 13 KOs) is what needs to be done, Mercado will do so to call out the other fighters at 140 pounds.

“I want to fight Shakur, but he (announced his retirement). I know he’ll be back. If I were to be offered a fight against him, I would take it in a heartbeat. 

“I’ve demonstrated consistency in the ring. I believe I’m a top fighter and I’m willing to face anyone. It doesn’t matter who it is. I’m consistent, and if (Berrio) winds up on the canvas, it’s because my skill-set and power is too much for him.”

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]