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  • By Miguel Maravilla Photos by Tom Hogan - Hogan

Jorge Linares Returns to the Forum vs. Mercito Gesta

WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight world champion Jorge “El Nino De Oro” Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) of Venezuela returns to the ring as he takes on Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs) of San Diego by way of Cebu, Philippines this Saturday January 27 at the Forum in Inglewood, California live on HBO Boxing After Dark. We talked to the champ as he talked about his upcoming title defense.

"I am extremely happy to be fighting here in California once again to give my best come Saturday night," Jorge Linares told Southern California "We are going up against a tough fighter that is hungry. He wants to be champion but I have prepared well to come out on top," Linares added.

Linares trained in Japan the first half of this camp and trained the second half in Las Vegas with Cuban trainer Ismael Salas as he prepared for Gesta.

"I have prepared well for this fight. I feel good and I have trained really hard for this fight, a good physical preparation," Linares on training camp.

His opponent Gesta will have his second crack at a world title as his first shot came in December of 2012 as he lost a one-sided unanimous decision to Miguel Vasquez for the IBF lightweight title. Since that defeat Gesta had gone 5-0-1, with 2 knockouts and in his last fight scored a knockout over Martin Honorio in September at the Forum on the Linares Campbell undercard.

"Mercito Gesta is a good fast boxer with a great record, that can take a punch. A boxer that has earned what he wants. Now things change he is going up against an experienced fighter and we will give a great show,"

Gesta also comes into this fight with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach. Linares trained under Roach as back in 2011 as he suffered a devastating TKO loss at the hands of Antonio De Marco relinquishing his then WBC lightweight title.

"It was a long time about 7 years ago and at that time Freddie was so busy with Manny Pacquiao and his HBO show. That's why I lost 2 times during that time because he was busy," Linares said. So after that I switched to Ismael Salas. I'ts different when you have a connection with a fighter like Freddie did with Manny and I feel that with Ismael we have won 12 fights," Linares explained.

For Linares, he is coming off a unanimous decision win over Luke Campbell this past September at the Forum, Linares successfully defended his WBA title he won over Anthony Crolla for the second time as he comes into this fight with a 12 fight win streak.

"It was an interesting and difficult fight with a tall fast fighter. He had lots of potential and still has a lot of talent I believe he will be champion one day. With the fight we did our job and excellent job to come out with the win," Linares on his last fight.

Now Linares returns to the Forum for the second consecutive fight, a venue which has hosted many memorable fights as he looks to get pass the hungry Gesta.

"This is a big challenge, a challenge in which there is a possibility of bigger things in the future," Linares said. "I need to show what I'm about,"

Not looking past Gesta but a win in this fight there is talk of potential match-ups with WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko who has basically wiped out the division or lightweight champ Mikey Garcia who has flirted with the idea of moving up to welterweight.

"A win here there are many great potential fights. There is a talk about Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia but right now my focus is Gesta after that we will see what lines up for us," Linares on what the future possibly holds. "I prefer Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia in that order but first Gesta,"

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