JoJo Diaz will make his return to the ring against Merciro Gesta on March 18, serving as the chief support for Golden Boy’s Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez vs Gabriel Rosado main event on DAZN.
The 30-year-old Diaz (32-3-1, 15 KO) will stay at lightweight for the 12-rounder. He’s a former title challenger at 126 and a former titleholder at 130, and is 1-2 since moving up in weight after dropping his junior lightweight title on the scales before fighting Shavkat Rakhimov in early 2021.
Diaz has lost two in a row, though one was to Devin Haney, now standing as the world’s clear best lightweight. The more recent came last October against William Zepeda, a 138 lb catchweight fight where Zepeda pretty much dominated.
Diaz had intended to fight Ryan Garcia in 2021, which is how he wound up fighting Haney when Garcia pulled out of the bout, and with Gesta (33-3-3, 17 KO) on the other side of the ring here, that’s two guys that were meant to fight Garcia but didn’t.
Gesta was planned to be Garcia’s Jan. 28 tune-up opponent ahead of a Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia fight in April, but Garcia opted instead to go straight to Davis, a fight that now may or may not happen.
Like Diaz, Gesta is a southpaw, but at 35 is further past his best days and has been sitting at sort of the same gatekeeper level for a while now. He’s 1-1-1 in his last three, with a TKO loss to Juan Antonio Rodriguez in 2019 and then a technical draw later that year with Carlos Morales, then a two-and-a-half year break before returning with a 10-round decision win over Joel Diaz Jr in a really fun fight in Apr. 2022.
It may not get anyone excited, but Diaz vs Gesta is perfectly fine matchmaking and is a far better matchup on paper than the main event on the same show.
“I am ready to come back and show fans that I still have what it takes to be at the top,” said Diaz. “Mercito Gesta is no easy foe, but I am sure we’re going to put on a great show.”
“I continue to train with my dad, Anecito Gesta, my coach, Marvin Somodio, and my team,” Gesta said. “I will be ready for the challenge. You will see two hungry warriors in the ring and we will put on a great show for the fans around the world. To all my countrymen and women in the Philippines and fans all around the world, I fight for you. I can’t wait for the opening bell.”