Moments earlier the two opponents had been circling each other. Ding! Strong hip-hop music blared as a bikini-ed model displayed “ROUND 4” around the ring. Meanwhile, I made the regretful decision to quickly take a bathroom break.
It was the final match of “Fight Night” at A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa, FL. Perhaps intentionally (or not) the finale pitted two boxing champions from different countries. Oscar Meza displayed the green, white, and red of his Mexican heritage while Mercito Gesta wore the sunburst of his Philippine roots.
The crowd was on its feet. I looked up in time to see Meza get knocked off balance and go bouncing into the ring’s ropes. Because my help was needed elsewhere, the next few seconds were nothing more than a distraction that I wanted to beat down with a broom so I could look back at the ring. BoxingScene can tell you what happened. Suddenly, Gesta being tackled by his happy posse and celebrating through shouts. Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta had won!
Later on, the crowds had subsided and Gesta walked out into the trash-filled hallway dressed like a regular 22-year-old in a plaid shirt. But he was still recognizable with his posse of bigger and taller guys around him watching as different workers called out “Great fight!”
The gang passed me and I yelled “Mabuhay!”
“Mabuhay!” Gesta and his dad (?) cried back. Ah, I watched the future Pacquiao walk off and felt some of that Philippine pride seep in… and wondering “Where in the city was the Philippine community of Tampa to show some support?”
And he’s a little cutie!