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Avila Perspective, Chap. 182: Fantasy Springs Fights and More

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  • Avila Perspective, Chap. 182: Fantasy Springs Fights and More

    By David A. Avila

    Avila Perspective, Chap. 182: Fantasy Springs Fights and More

    While a massive music festival takes place in Coachella, just down the street, a couple of cool cats headline a boxing card on Thursday night.

    Lightweight contenders Mercito Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs) and Joel Diaz Jr. (26-2, 22 KOs) meet at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio on Thursday, April 21. DAZN will stream the Golden Boy Promotions boxing card live.

    Boxing returns to the desert casino area that has long been home to some of the best prizefighting seen over the past three decades. Both Gesta and Diaz are no strangers to the area and most fans know who they are.

    Gesta, 34, has been fighting professionally since 2003 and though a long-time veteran of the sport, he looks like a youngster. He’s also one of the most well-liked prizefighters you will ever meet. Always cordial, always good to his fans.

    The first time I ever witnessed Gesta in the prize ring was back in 2007 when the Filipino southpaw fought at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. That night he won by knockout on the same card Fernando Montiel defended his WBO super flyweight title.

    Diaz, 30, has been active on the Southern California fight scene since a youth. The first time I met Diaz, who is not related to trainer Joel Diaz, he was sparring with a slew of other talented youngsters at the South El Monte boxing gym in 2012. Around a dozen of the best young fighters were trading bombs. Among those there that afternoon were Oscar Valdez, Jojo Diaz, Saul Rodriguez, and Joel Diaz. They stood out.

    I also remember Diaz’s pro debut in July 2010. He was on the undercard for Timothy Bradley who defeated Luis Abregu at a desert casino near Palm Springs. Both Diaz and Bradley won their bouts that night. Diaz had a big smile after the fight.

    This is the crossroads for both lightweights who have had world title opportunities in the past. Each fighter has their strengths. Gesta has speed, technique and fought some very talented fighters like Jorge Linares, Miguel Vazquez and Martin Honorio. Diaz has power and aggressiveness and has fought Luis Arceo, Regis Prograis and a few others.

    One of these cool cats will win and another will lose. It’s anybody’s guess.

    “I have been working very hard every day even though I didn’t have a fight scheduled,” said Gesta who has not fought since 2019. “I wanted to stay busy and stay in shape. Hopefully all the training and sparring will pay off and I will do very well on Thursday.”

    Diaz echoed those sentiments.

    “I feel on top of the world headlining a card on Golden Boy and DAZN. This is a big opportunity for me and I will make sure to take advantage of it,” Diaz said.

    Doors open at 5 p.m. Expect a little traffic on the I-10 Freeway while heading for Fantasy Springs Casino. It’s just a few freeway exits from the annual Coachella music festival that was stalled due to the pandemic the past few years.

    Tyson Fury

    Heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) defends against fellow Brit Dillian Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) on Saturday, April 23, at Wembley Stadium in London. ESPN+ pay-per-view will stream the Top Rank fight card.

    Promoters expect a UK record 94,000 on Saturday.

    Fury has shown he’s willing to face anyone, anywhere and since he began fighting professionally has remained undefeated.

    Whyte was last seen reversing a knockout loss by stopping Russia’s Alexander Povetkin.

    One thing about heavyweights from the British Commonwealth is they truly are talented. They have the best heavyweight in the world in Fury. This clash between British heavyweights could be a dandy.

    The “Gypsy King” has an abundance of skill, grit and athleticism to remain at the top for a while. As long as he’s willing to put in the training, he will remain the king of the heavyweights.

    Fury’s three battles with former champion Deontay Wilder are heavyweight classics. They take a back seat to none of the other heavyweight classics of the past like Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier or Evander Holyfield vs Riddick Bowe.

    “Coming back and getting back to the top of the world and having three big fights with Deontay Wilder over there in the U.S., and now being back in England after all these years, four years away,” said Fury at the press conference. “Now I’m fighting my old pal Dillian Whyte back at home for all the glory and all the belts. Who would have thought it? We’re looking forward to an awesome, memorable night. This will break all records.”

    Big heavyweight title fights are extremely unique and this one more so.

    Lately, Fury maintains this will be his last fight. Will it be his last?

    "I've said this is my last fight, and it will be," said Fury.

    Whyte only cares about the fight on Saturday.

    “It means everything to me to be fighting in my home country, and especially because it’s for the world title at Wembley. It’s not too far from where I’m from. It means everything. It’s massive. It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for. It’s a big fight,” said Whyte.

    Top Rank’s Todd DuBoef recognizes this heavyweight championship fight’s appeal.

    “The world is all going to be watching, not only 94,000. This is an honor to be a part of, and it’s going to be a wonderful night. We will all remember this,” he said.

    First bout will be shown at 11 a.m. Pacific Time.

    Fights to Watch

    Thurs. DAZN 6 p.m. – Mercito Gesta (32-3-3) vs Joel Diaz Jr. (26-2).

    Sat. ESPN+ ppv 11 a.m. - Tyson Fury (31-0-1) vs Dillian Whyte (28-2).

    Sat. FITE.TV ppv 5 p.m. – Sena Agbeko (24-2) vs Apollo Thompson (19-4).

    Photo credit: Lizette De Los Santos / Golden Boy

  • #2
    Obviously the one to watch will be Fury v Whyte, but I'm also interested in seeing Agbeko v Thompson. My (proverbial) money's on Agbeko, but I'm definitely not counting Thompson out...
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    Last edited by Psyker; 04-25-2022, 02:54 AM.