BY: DENNIS ‘D SOURCE’ GUILLERMO

Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV
When: Saturday, Dec. 8 at 9:00 p.m. ET
Watch: Pay-Per-View ($59.95 for standard definition; $69.95 for high definition)
Live Stream: TopRank.com

In 2006, a young Cebuano by the name of Mercito Gesta crossed the Pacific to the US to realize his pugilistic dreams and hoped to follow in the footsteps of Pinoy boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, who at the time, had just taken the boxing world by storm.

Armed with hardly anything more than his courage and his fists, the 19-year-old left his family in Mandaue City and bought into the promise and possibility of a similar rags-to-riches story by a promotional outfit and its namesake.

Though things didn’t necessarily pan out the way he initially hoped, and he found out quickly that promises made oceans away were far from the reality he stumbled upon, Gesta took difficult detours, and yet found a way to arrive at his original destination. Finally, a world title fight.

After much work, some luck, and taking on every hurdle thrown at him, Gesta finally gets a crack at a world title when he faces IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez on the undercard of Pacquiao-Marquez 4 this Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“I’m ready,” Gesta told this scribe ever so succinctly.

Gesta has plenty of reason to be confident; mostly because he has put in all the work to set himself up for success.

“We couldn’t have asked more from him,” said Gesta’s co-manager and co-trainer Vince Parra. “Camp has been really good. He responded to the challenge. He showed it in his work, and his father has helped immensely in conditioning and motivating him.”

From his fight strategy, strength and conditioning, down to juicing to help with his nutrition and weight, Gesta has gone the extra mile to prepare for whatever challenge Vazquez presents.

“He’s not that fast when he throws, but sometimes he throws awkward and comes from weird angles, but the main thing with him is that he runs,” Gesta broke down his opponent. “That’s why we’ve prepared for that. I’m going to cut the ring and not chase him; time him and stay in the middle of the ring, instead of running after him,” he added.

Gesta also promised to commit to throwing more body shots to further slow down Vazquez, who has shown a penchant for boxing and staying on the outside, rather than going toe-to-toe and getting caught up with exchanges.

Gesta has also received motivation from his family, whom he has been able to bring to the US with him. “It’s been really great to have his dad and his mom up there, and his little brother to push him,” Parra said. “He’s been really focused.”

His father, Anecito, has overseen his strength and conditioning, while his mother, Mercy, ensures his diet is proper. His brother Mokz has helped in motivating him in training. All of them will be cheering him on from ringside for the first time together in his biggest moment yet.

But despite the magnitude and the pageantry that surrounds his upcoming fight, Gesta has remained his usual calm self. “He’s very relaxed and monotone,” Parra observed. “He’s confident in his skill and his abilities. It’s hard to tell the difference.”

Asked if this fight has made him feel any different, Gesta responded, “The only thing that’s different is that I’ve done more and prepared harder than ever for this fight, […] I’m not nervous. I’m just excited to finally go out there and fight.”