In a fight that was becoming competitive, a cut from an inadvertent clash of heads abruptly ended it.
Lightweights Mercito Gesta and Carlos Morales fought to a technical decision draw Thursday night at the Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles.
The fight was a crossroads bout between lightweights who have struggled in recent bouts and were hoping a victory would put one of them on the path back to contender status. Instead, both Gesta and Morales were left back in the same position before their clash.
Morales (19-4-4, 8 knockouts), who resides in the Los Angeles area, entered the fight winning back-to-back fights earlier this year after losing by decision to Rene Alvarado and Ryan Garcia in 2018. Gesta, a San Diego resident and a former world lightweight title challenger, was knocked out in round nine of his last bout on Mar. 21.
Both fighters had their moments during the first two rounds, but Morales closed the distance and was able to connect with several right hands over the next couple of rounds. Morales faced adversity midway through the fourth round as an accidental clash of heads opened a cut over his left eye.
Sensing the blood seeping in Morales’ eye was making it difficult to see, the southpaw Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs) initiated exchanges, throwing and landing with several overhand left crosses to the head. Several punches landed onto Morales head, prompting the Mexican-American to fight off his back foot. After the conclusion of the sixth round, the ringside physician advised referee Saul Caiz, Sr. to stop the fight, due to the severity of the cut over Morales’ left eye.
One judges scored the bout 58-56 for Morales, while the other two judges scored the bout 57-57.
The competitiveness of the fight was evident in the final Punch Stat numbers. Morales threw two more total punches (218 to 216), but Gesta, who resides in San Diego, landed 64 total punches, seven more than Morales.
Junior lightweight Jonathan Oquendo of Puerto Rico defeated Charles Huerta over ten rounds to win by unanimous decision.
All three judges scored the bout 100-90 in favor of Oquendo, who improves to 31-6 (19 KOs).
It was a clash of fringe contenders between Oquendo and Huerta where the winner would prolong their career, while the loser would take a significant step backwards.
The 36-year-old Oquendo, who was coming off a close decision loss to Lamont Roach in his last fight on May 4, was the more-assertive fighter after the first couple of rounds. The fight was mostly fought in the center of the ring where both fighters stood in the pocket, but it was Oquendo who landed the telling blows during most of the exchanges.
As the bout progressed, Huerta’s punch output dropped significantly. During the second half of the fight, Huerta was resigned to throwing one punch at a time, much to the dismay of Huerta’s father/ trainer ‘Mando’ Huerta.
Despite being up on the scorecards, Oquendo did not go for the knockout during the final two rounds of the fight, choosing to connect to Huerta’s head and body until the final bell sounded.
Huerta, who resides in nearby Paramount, drops to 21-7 (12 KOs).
In the opening bout of the ‘Thursday Night Fights’ stream, junior middleweight prospect Travell Mazion defeated Diego Cruz by unanimous decision.
Scores were 99-90, 99-90, and 98-91 for Mazion, who improves to 16-0, 12 KOs.
After an even opening round, Mazion landed the more-effective and harder punches throughout most of the fight. Mazion landed lead or counter right hands to the head of Cruz early on, but would get countered with a hook or cross from Cruz.
Towards the end of the seventh round, Mazion was deducted a point from referee Raul Caiz, Sr. for landing a low blow on Cruz after being warned not to earlier in the fight. Cruz continued to be game during the later rounds, occasionally connecting to the head of Mazion, but was not able to follow up with anything of significance.
Cruz, who resides in Mexico City, drops to 19-8-2, 15 KOs.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing
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