Jorge Linares routs Mercito Gesta to defend lightweight title

Jorge Linares won his 13th consecutive fight and defended his WBA lightweight world title for the third time with a dominating 12-round unanimous decision over Mercito Gesta on the co-main event of HBO After Dark Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Linares (44-3, 27 KO's), 32, a Venezuela native fighting out of Japan, had little trouble, but Gesta gave it his best effort.

The judges had it 118-110 (X2) and 117-111. FightNights.com scored it 118-110 for Linares.

Gesta (31-2-2, 17 KO's), 30, of the Philippines, a southpaw training out of San Diego, started out strong, but Linares was clipping him with counters, and jabbing to the body.

As the fight wore on, Linares got stronger, and the difference in skill level was very apparent. Gesta's footwork was mediocre, and Linares would land four punches for every one that Gesta landed.

To make it short, it was a world champion fighting a fringe contender, and the titleholder was two levels above his competition.

Although Linares won handily, he still took some unnecessary punches while showboating and keeping his hands down.

He won't be able to get away with that against Vasyl Lomachenko, Mikey Garcia, or any legitimate contender.

Garcia, who fights for a 140-pound title in March against Sergey Lipinets, and Lomachenko, a top pound-for-pound fighter who routed Guillermo Rigondeaux in December, would give Linares a run for his money.

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