Former super featherweight champion Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz (32-4-1, 15 KOs) suffered his third consecutive defeat, losing to underdog Mercito ‘No Mercy’ Gesta (34-3-3, 17 KOs) by a surprise 10 round split decision in the main event on Saturday night at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California.
The judges’ scores were 99-91, 98-92 for the 35-year-old Gesta, and 97-93 for Diaz. Boxing 247 had Gesta winning 8-2.
Gesta got the better of, the younger fighter Diaz, using a constant jab, speedy combinations, and ring movement to keep the heavy-handed former 130-lb champion from getting to him with his big shots.
Diaz, 30, had his best success in rounds three and nine, in which he was able to cut off the ring and, pin Gesta to the ropes, and unload with hard shots to the head & body.
Gesta started the first minute of each round at a fast pace, throwing beautiful combinations and hard jabs to keep the slower-handed Diaz from getting off his shots. In the last minute of each round, Gesta would tire, and Diaz would have his best success.
Where things went wrong for Diaz is that he wasn’t letting his hands go with combinations as he’d talked about wanting to do before the fight. He was following Gesta around, looking for one big shot rather than throwing shots.
That style was perfect for Gesta, as he’s a natural combination puncher with far superior speed, and he took advantage of Diaz’s low punch output to outwork him.
In between rounds, Diaz complained of a hand injury. It’s unclear which hand was bothering him, though, as he seemed capable of using both during the fight. It didn’t matter in the end, as Gesta’s movement and speedy shots kept Diaz from having enough opportunities to land his shots.
Diaz-Gesta had been scheduled for the co-feature spot, but after light heavyweight contender Gilberto Ramirez came in overweight for his main event fight against Gabe Rosado, the fight was canceled, and the Diaz vs. Gesta fight moved to the headliner slot.
The defeat for Diaz was his third consecutive since 2021. In his two previous fights, he lost to William Zepeda and Devin Haney. Diaz’s last win came in July 2021 when he defeated Javier Fortuna by a 12 round unanimous decision.
Diaz might need to think about either moving back down in weight to 130 or 126 or possibly retiring. He doesn’t possess the power, speed, or work rate to compete against the best at 135.
The problem with Diaz returning to super featherweight is he was having problems making weight for that division, which is why he moved up to lightweight. But if Diaz wants to save his career, he’s got to move down because he doesn’t have the size, power, or skills to compete against the best at 135.
Gesta isn’t considered among the best at lightweight. So if Diaz can’t be counted on to defeat this level of opponent, it doesn’t bode well for his future in the 135-lb weight class.
The way that southpaw Gesta fought tonight, was a surprise because he boxed beautifully, jabbing, moving, throwing combinations, and making Diaz look past it.
Except when Gesta was backed against the ropes, he was dominating. His corner told him to stay off the ropes after he was worked over by Diaz in the third round, and for the most part, he followed their instructions to the letter.
In the chief support bout, lightweight Oscar Duarte (25-1-1, 20 KOs) showed off his heavy hands, stopping Alex Martin (18-5, 6 KOs) in the eighth round.
In the eighth round, Duarte dropped Martin with a powerful right hand. Martin got back up but was quickly knocked down again by Duarte with a right hand.
The contest was then halted. Martin looked in bad shape after the first knockdown, and it was surprising that the referee allowed it to continue. The time of the stoppage was at 1:14 of the eighth.