Linares Is the Man – But Is Gesta the Right Pick?

Jason Lake

Thursday, January 25, 2018 12:41 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 12:41 PM UTC

Jorge Linares is the top-ranked lightweight in the world, and the boxing odds are very much in his favor for Saturday’s title defense against Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta.

Mercito Gesta vs Jorge Linares

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Free Boxing Pick: Gesta +1533
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

God bless the sweet, sweet science. There was free money on the table for last week’s IBF welterweight title fight between Errol Spence Jr. and Lamont Peterson; if you weren’t able to grab that arbitrage, we hope you at least managed to grab Spence at –295 to win inside the distance, which he did via eighth-round knockout. That price went up to –325 by the time they touched gloves, by the way.

Sadly, there’s no arbitrage available on the boxing odds board for Saturday’s WBA lightweight title bout – not at press time, at least. The champion, Jorge Linares, is a heavy favorite over Mercito Gesta, pegged at a range between –2778 (at SportsInteraction) and –5000 (at Bovada and elsewhere). The best price you’ll find anywhere for Gesta is +1533 at multiple outlets. But he just might be worth it.

Mikey No Likey

If we’re going to put the underdog in our boxing picks, we need a darned good reason. Maybe several. Saturday’s fight is a showcase for Linares (43-3 lifetime, 27 KOs), who has won four world titles across three different weight classes. This will be the co-main event on HBO’s Boxing After Dark (10:30 p.m. ET), live from the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, California; the main event is Lucas Matthysse vs. Tewa Kiram for the vacant WBA Regular welterweight title.

The story of how we got here tells us plenty. Back in October, the WBC ordered a unification bout between Linares and their lightweight champion, Mikey Garcia. But Garcia didn’t like the offer Golden Boy Promotions put in front of him, so instead, he’s going to fight IBF junior welterweight champ Sergey Lipinets in March. Linares just isn’t a very big draw on this side of the pond.

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Mikey Garcia told the So Cal Boxing Report his three fight plan for 2018 is:

1. Sergey Lipinets
2. Jorge Linares
3. Errol Spence 👀

— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) January 22, 2018

He hasn’t been drawing much action, either. After opening at around –5000 two weeks ago, Linares has been shedding chalk ever since. Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs) isn’t considered a serious threat; in his only other major title shot back in 2012, he was dominated by IBF champion Miguel Vazquez, losing by unanimous decision. However, Gesta is trained by Freddie Roach, who used to handle Linares – Gesta even sparred with Linares while they were in the same camp.

On top of that, Linares isn’t in quite the same stratosphere as Spence. He’s the No. 33-ranked pound-for-pound fighter at BoxRec, and he barely got past Luke Campbell (+270) via split decision in his last fight this past September, also at The Forum. Gesta is a southpaw, just like Campbell. Let’s put a small sum on the lad. It’ll be fun.

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