Ernesto Mercado hopes a convincing win over Jayson Velez will lead to bigger opportunities and to put the rest of the 140-pound division on notice.
Mercado will face Velez tonight at the LumColor Center in Ontario, California. The 10-round bout will precede the main event bout between middleweight prospect Raul Lizarraga and Tyi Edmonds.
Both fights will headline a ‘Brut Boxing’ card that will stream live on vivalivetv.com (PPV $9.95, 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).
Mercado (7-0, 7 knockouts), who resides in nearby Pomona, has annihilated opposition thus far with none of his fights going past the second round. Mercado has fought modest competition, but he is able to bully and break down his opponents.
In his last bout on August 25, Mercado knocked out Argentina’s Alfredo Blanco in the second round. The win over Blanco marked Mercado’s fifth fight this year.
The 20-year-old will face a stern test against Velez, who has struggled as of late, but will be Mercado’s toughest test to date. Velez (30-9-1, 21 KOs), who resides in Juncos, Puerto Rico, lost a close split-decision to Wesley Ferrer by majority decision.
Velez may have lost four of his last five fights, but Mercado is expecting a tough challenge tonight.
“This is a big opportunity for me to show the world how I compare to all the other elite prospects in (the) lightweight and junior welterweight divisions,” said Mercado at an open workout earlier this week. “I feel a solid win over a fighter like Velez, who has been in the ring with some notable fighters, will garner me the recognition with the boxing media and fans that I desire. All my wins have come in (California) and not Mexico, like some of these other fighters who went down there to build up their records.”
The 34-year-old Velez lost by split-decision to Jaime Arboleda in February 2020. He would follow up the loss to Arboleda by losing to both Oscar Valdez and Gabriel Flores, Jr.
On December 3, Velez fought and defeated prospect Jean Carlos Quintana by unanimous decision.
Mercado is wary of what Velez brings to the table, but he strongly believes fighting the likes of Velez is what will make him a better fighter. A one-sided victory or a knockout victory will send a message to the rest of the 140-pound division that a star is in the making and could become a legit contender before they know it.
“Fighting for a (regional) title this early in my career is a big deal for me,” said Mercado. “I’m hoping to be catapulted up the WBA rankings with the victory. This will be my first 10-round fight and I’m going to make the best of this opportunity.”
Lizarraga (9-0, 9 KOs), who resides in Murrieta, California, and Edmonds (14-4 1 No Decision, 9 KOs), a resident of Meridian, Mississippi, will square off in an eight-round bout.
The LumColor Center is located at 11255 South Central Avenue in Ontario. Doors will open at 5 p.m., with first bell scheduled for 6 p.m. PT.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing