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Mercado KO’s Velez for NABA Lightweight Title

Lightweight Ernesto Mercado is a star in the making, with the speed and firepower that has led him to an undefeated knockout record as well as a signature win in a professional boxing career that is just a few months past one year old. 

On October 22, 2022, ‘Tito’ dominated and stopped veteran Jayson Velez in Ontario, California with a dazzling display of power shots and hand speed that had the crowd cheering throughout the fight.  Velez has faced the likes of Evgeny Gradovich, Jo Jo Diaz, Juan Manuel Lopez, Ryan Garcia and Oscar Valdez.  

“I expected more pressure from Velez. Once I landed that first shot in the first round (a left hook to the body), it looked like he changed his game plan,”said Mercado (8-0, 8KO), who had heard in the lead up to the fight that Velez was aiming for a knockout.  

“After the third round, I felt like a knockout was coming,” said Mercado, who initially found interest in the sport from his father and uncle.  Mercado registered 300 amateur fights while gaining experience in the Golden Gloves (4x winner), Silver Gloves and was on the USA Olympic team for three years, also serving as an Olympic alternate.  

Velez put up a valiant veteran effort, yet knew what he was up against when he stepped in against a younger, hungry fighter.  After six rounds, Velez had enough and did not come out of his corner for bell number seven.  “He has a lot of power, speed and pressure… I felt his power.  Of course I wanted to win the fight, yet Tito came with pressure and throws a lot of punches,” said Velez, who personally applied the NABA Silver lightweight title around Mercado’s waist after the fight.

“It’s nothing personal.  At the end of the day, we fighters are all looking to get home to our families… I felt like I learned a lot from the fight,” said Mercado, who went past the third round for the first time in his career while taking his first big step up in competition.  

Fighting out of G2G Boxing in Pomona, California, Mercado turned professional in July 2021 and hasn’t taken South of the Border ‘starter fights’ in Mexico.  The boxer has plied his trade in the States and now finds himself with a solid win over a veteran contender, winning a minor title that the 21 year old hopes will propel him to a major title fight.

“I’m going to defend the NABA title either later this year or next year… I want all the titles, so I can force the big name fighters to fight me.”

Photos: German ’Superman’ Villasenor/Al Applerose

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