By David Robinett at ringside
Photos: Sumio Yamada
In a title bout pitting two fighters unbeaten since 2012, WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) successfully defended his title, as well as recognition as the Ring Magazine lineal lightweight champion, with a twelve-round unanimous decision over Mercito Gesta (31-2-2, 17 KOs) in the co-main event on HBO Boxing After Dark at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Scores for Linares were 117-111, 118-110, 118-110.
The southpaw Gesta started quickly, darting behind his right jab and landing quick left hands and short combinations, although a Linares counter right might have been the hardest punch of the round.
The right hand continued to be Linares’ best weapon in the early rounds, landing regularly with authority while Gesta’s punches seemed to have less effect on the Venezuelan champion. Despite the power difference, Gesta didn’t back down, motioning Linares to come get him in the fifth and going toe to toe while getting the crowd worked up into the fight.
However, Gesta’s moxie was not enough to overcome Linares’ strength and skill advantages, and as Linares continued to land big right hands in the middle and later rounds, mixing in occasional but effective uppercuts, he started to pile up a lead on the scorecards, as reflected in the comfortable margin of victory despite coasting a bit near the finish line while Gesta continued to gamely come after him.
Not a bad effort by Gesta, but his ceiling appears to be just below this level while Linares, a three-division champion, can look forward to potential matchups with pound-for-pound residents Miley Garcia and Vasyl Lomachenko.