Mercito Gesta continues to enjoy a late-career surge.
The 35-year-old fighter delivered a high output attack en route to getting a split decision victory over Joseph "JoJo" Diaz at The Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California on Saturday night, live on DAZN. Judges scored it 97-93 for Diaz, 99-91 for Gesta and 98-92 for Gesta. DAZN had it much closer at 96-94 for Gesta.
Gesta and Diaz were moved into the main event after the original headliner between Gilberto Ramirez and Gabe Rosado was scrapped due to Ramirez being overweight on Friday. Gesta and Diaz didn't disappoint as both delivered a close, competitive fight.
However, Gesta consistently opening rounds with more spring in his step, and as the busier boxer with the higher punch volume, spelled the major difference.
Though Diaz stalked Gesta well and won rounds where he punished the Filipino up against the ropes, Gesta was the more active boxer and peppered Diaz with more than enough punches to earn the victory. Plus, he was able to generate enough effective counters when under pressure to get the slight edge over the harder puncher.
Gesta (34-3-3 with 17 KOs) has now won two fights in a row. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Diaz (32-4-1 with 15 KOs) has now lost three consecutive fights.
After 10 rounds of action, judges score it 97-93 for Diaz, 99-91 for Gesta and 98-92 for Gesta, giving the Filipino fighter the split decision. Hard-earned victory for Gesta but the judges' scorecards were all over the place and all too wide.
A more aggressive Gesta is sitting on his punches and letting them fly early in this final round. Diaz is stalking Gesta around the ring now, looking for a game-changing shot. A big left hand lands for Gesta as he presses forward. The shot helps put him over the top for the round, despite solid body shots fron Diaz. (10-9 Gesta, 96-94 Gesta)
Gesta remains the busier fighter out the gate of rounds including this one. That said, Diaz is sitting on his punches well and unloading shots. He cuts off the ring and deposits a shot to Gesta's ribs. (10-9 Diaz, 86-85 Gesta)
They exchange fire with Gesta's left hand punctuating the clash. Diaz digs to the body with a crunching right hand. Moments later, he delivers a right cross and a right back down to the body. A right hand lands for Diaz and he follows with another. He briefly catches Gesta up against the ropes but the Filipino fighter slips out of harm's way. A couple of lefts connect for Gesta late but it's Diaz's round. (10-9 Diaz, 77-75 Gesta)
Diaz closes the space and rocks Gesta with a right hook across the jaw. Moments later, he pieces together a combo that connects. We're seeing more urgency from "JoJo" now — not to mention accuracy. Gesta unleashes a quick flurry late but Diaz takes the round. (10-9 Diaz, 68-65 Gesta)
Gesta having more spring in his step and being the busier boxer during the opening minute of rounds continues to be a constant in this fight thus far. He keeps peppering Diaz around the ring with the jab. Diaz is trying to close space and tee off as he did in the third round but hasn't been able to slow Gesta down this frame just yet. Diaz just misses with a big left hand. Another round in the bank for Gesta. Diaz must show more urgency. (10-9 Gesta, 59-55 Gesta)
Gesta gets right back to it, unleashing a high volume of punches. But Diaz returns fire by rocking Gesta up against the ropes with more power punches. Gesta gets back to moviing around the ring while peppering "JoJo" with more punches. Gesta deposits to Diaz's body before delivering a big right hand. Prior to that point, Gesta's punches aren't damaging but he keeps piling on the points behind his high volume. We're halfway through this bout slated for 10 rounds. (10-9 Gesta, 49-46 Gesta)
Gesta has slowed down significantly — both with his punch volume and footwork — and that's courtesy of Diaz's body work last round. Diaz is stalking forward methodically, looking to unload another power punch. This round was more of an adjusting one for both fighters but Gesta takes it despite eating a splintering combination ending in a left raking across his jaw at the bell. (10-9 Gesta, 39-37 Gesta)
Gesta comes out firing, catching Diaz with about eight unanswered punches. But a few moments later, it's Diaz putting together power shots with Gesta up against the ropes. A raucous right hand lands for Diaz. A left, a right rocks Gesta as well. These compact shots to the body and upstairs make it clear that Diaz owns the heavier hands.
It's not that Gesta is landing anything with thunder to it but he's doing an excellent job of piecing punches together and peppering Diaz. Also, he's countering sharply. When Diaz caught him with a right hand, Gesta responded admirably with some quick counters. (10-9 Gesta, 20-18 Gesta)
Gesta starting out fast, letting his hands go as the aggressor. Diaz trying to feel his way into the fight but Gesta catches him off balance with a slick right. Diaz catches Gesta with a left in this southpaw vs. southpaw affair. Gesta takes the opening frame. (10-9 Gesta)
Joseph "JoJo" Diaz slides into the main event due to Ramirez tipping the scale overweight in his planned scrap against Gabe Rosado. And this is a must win for Diaz (32-3-1 with 15 KOs) who is coming off two straight losses and was arrested just last month over a charge of child neglect. What kind of headspace is Diaz in?
Martin somehow makes it up on his feet only for Duarte to put him back down with another right hand. The ref stops it right there for the eighth-round stoppage. He should've ended it after the first knockdown because it really devastated Martin. What a knockout victory!
Martin really dominated the fifth round behind stinging, sharp output. However, Duarte was relentless with his forward fighting in the sixth as he walked Martin down and unloaded power punches, seemingly sitting on them all.
This was a fantastic fight as Tudor landed the more significant power punches with Cato-Cain delivering the snappier, sharper shots. There's no way a judge could've seen this 80-72, though. It was a lot closer than that as Tudor had to gut this one out.
The fourth round had a gash opening up on Tudor's forehead due to an accidental headbutt and it seemed to enrage him. After getting cut, Tudor picked up the aggression and hurt Cato-Cain with a few shots including a heavy-handed check hook.