Jorge Linares must get past tricky challenger Mercito Gesta if he is to set up a unification scrap with Mikey Garcia. The Venezuelan defends his WBA and Ring Magazine belts at The Forum in California on January 27th.
Gesta isn't as well known Linares, but the champ admitted that he has to guard against complacency, especially with a lucrative fight with Garcia seemingly the next step.
Speaking earlier in the month WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman explained that WBC world title holder Garcia must face Linares after their next bouts.
Speaking to ESPN Deportes, Linares said:
"The truth is that I respect Gesta. He’s hungry and he’s worked hard to get the opportunity and he came in."
"I’ve seen him a lot. I had the opportunity to train with him in 2010 when we were with Freddie Roach on the Wild Card."
"We made a couple of sparring rounds, he’s good, left-handed, strong.
"It’s not an easy fight - Gesta’s no joke. He’s trained by Freddie Roach and you can never underestimate Roach. Gesta is a leftie, he’s a boxer-puncher.
30-year-old Gesta has only suffered one defeat 34 professional fights, the former IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez outpointing him in December 2012.