Linares puts title on line against underdog Gesta

Jorge Linares says he's not taking anything for granted when he defends his WBA lightweight world title on Saturday even though challenger Mercito Gesta is considered a heavy underdog.

The 32-year-old Linares will be making the third defense of his title and will be gunning for his 13th consecutive victory in the 12-round fight at the Los Angeles Forum.

"I'm ready. I'm here to give a good fight. I'm not thinking about any other fight right now," said Linares, of Venezuela. "Gesta is a tough fighter. He's a quick southpaw who is dangerous.

"It's very important to be victorious this Saturday. Bigger and better things will come with a victory."

In his last fight, also at the Forum, Linares struggled to a split decision victory over mandatory challenger Luke Campbell four months ago.

Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) is hoping that a win Saturday could put him in line for a unification fight against Mikey Garcia later this year.

The 30-year-old Gesta, of the Philippines, is looking to improve on his 31-1-2 record.

But Gesta has fought just six times against mediocre opponents since his only other title shot in 2012 when he lost a one-sided decision to Miguel Vazquez.

"I've grown a lot and learned a lot since 2012, when I first fought for a world title," said Gesta. "I learned how to take defeat, and I learned to make the most from my mistakes. Right now it's a matter of taking all that I learned and putting it into the ring.

"I'm not concerned with Jorge Linares' power, but he is fast and we're taking that into consideration.

Gesta added that he has "been studying and working on applying pressure, but smartly to avoid mistakes. This is my second shot at a title, and I'll make the most of it with a knockout victory."

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