Mercito Gesta and Jesse Magdaleno were the winners on tonight's ESPN Friday Night Fights.
Filipino lightweight prospect Mercito Gesta still wasn't the Pacquiao-esque firecracker he's sometimes sold as being, and he probably never will be that guy, but he kept rolling tonight with a ninth round TKO of Ty Barnett, which has a very small asterisk but nothing particularly controversial.
In the ninth, Gesta (26-0-1, 14 KO) came out gunning for the knockout, leading the fight by no worse than a 6-2 count in rounds. Firing away with bombs, Gesta floored Barnett (20-3-1, 13 KO) with some heavy shots. The underdog made it to his feet, and referee Jay Nady allowed it to continue, only for Gesta to spring forth once more and send Barnett back to the canvas, this time resulting in a stoppage.
Now, the only issue at all is that Gesta's final shot that put Barnett down was landed after the bell, but while this is technically wrong, boxing's boxing (by which I mean it's ridiculous most of the time, not that it's rough n' tumble n' ya gotta be on yer toes), and I would only have a problem with this had Barnett had more than a prayer of winning the fight. He did not. He was way behind, period, and he was gone after the first knockdown, really.
It wasn't the greatest performance for Gesta, but he only lost two rounds at most, and one of those would be up for serious debate. Barnett was game and gave Gesta some good looks, but Mercito mostly did work in there, and owned the ring for the majority of the bout.
Maybe it's just me, but I see two outcomes here for Mercito Gesta, and neither are Manny Pacquiao:
- A Ruslan Provodnikov sort, but with a better promoter. Generally OK to watch, solid fighter, but unlikely to be a major threat against top opponents.
- A Danny Garcia sort, who has doubters right up until he knocks the crap out of a name fighter in a shot at the big time.
In the co-feature, 122-pound prospect Jesse Magdaleno improved to 11-0 (8 KO) with a second round TKO of Brazil's Aldimar Silva (17-3, 9 KO). Magdaleno, 20, likely has the higher upside between he and brother Diego, but he's not as polished yet and hasn't faced the same level of opponents. Offensively, he's a powder keg. Defensively, we haven't seen him have to do anything to date.
Mickey Bey was reportedly scheduled as the co-feature on TV, but the decision was made to put Magdaleno on instead. In response, Bey refused to fight at all against Robert Frankel. If Bey was contracted to be on television, I can frankly understand his reaction. If not, he probably burned a bridge and did himself no good.