Tito Mercado Got Game – Back in Action August 26



Tito Mercado Got Game – Back in Action August 26
Photo Credit: Team Mercado

After a lull in the boxing schedule, it’s a packed lineup on August 26 for fight fans. In addition to the major cards on the schedule on ESPN+ from Poland featuring Usyk vs. Dubois, and Tulsa featuring Jared Anderson vs. Andriy Rudenko, a DAZN card from Puerto Rico, and a UFC Fight Pass card from Commerce, California, there are club fights taking place around the world.

Flying under the radar is the next Fight City Promotions card in Ontario, California, headlined by promising junior welterweight Ernesto “Tito” Mercado (11-0, 10 KOs).

Mercado’s activity rate proves the value of staying busy in the ring. He traveled to Managua, Nicaragua for a fight on July 6 against the durable South African Xolisani Ndongeni (31-3, 18 KOs). On a hot, steamy night, Ndongeni took Mercado the distance for a unanimous decision for the first time.

Tito Mercado went the distance in July, but he has different plans on Saturday. Photo: Team Tito Mercado got

Tito Mercado went the distance in July, but he has different plans on Saturday. Photo: Team Mercado

“I feel like I'm one of the busiest fighters today,” said Mercado. I think this will be my 13th fight in about two years, so I feel like I'm at a good pace. Hopefully, I can continue that pace, if there's no injuries or anything like that sent me back. So far, I like the pace we’re setting.

“I just want to be fighting. I like fighting. I like being in the ring. I don't want to be (one of) those types of guys that are inactive for two, three years or who just train, train, train. It don't play.” Music to a boxing fan’s ears.

Mercado fought as a pro for the first time in his father/trainer Ernesto Senior’s homeland. The win followed a knockout victory over former title challenger “Hammering” Hank Lundy, and a prior knockout win over Jayson Velez of Puerto Rico, a former title challenger at featherweight.

Hot Time In Managua for Mercado

Although the scores weren’t close (99-91 across the board), Mercado, age 21, still considers it a learning experience.

It wasn't all work for Tito Mercado in Nicaragua. Photo: Tito Mercado/Instagram Tito Mercado got

It wasn't all work for Tito Mercado in Nicaragua. Photo: Tito Mercado/Instagram

“The weather, the climate is really humid and hot over there. It kind of affected me,” admitted Mercado. “It meant the work I’d put in the gym helped make it somewhat of an easy fight experience. I was able to win the fight pretty decisively. And I'm glad that I know in any situation I’m able to step up and win the fight.”

Next up is Carlos Manuel Portillo of Paraguay (23-4, 17 KOs) in only his second fight in the U.S. after a loss in 2021 to Omar Aguilar on the Valdez vs. Conceicao undercard. In Tucson. Portillo gives Mercado yet another look, building on the variety of opponents he tested himself against as an amateur who once aspired to Olympic competition before turning pro.

“Having all that kind of amateur experience – you see every style, you get every look, and I think it just makes it so much easier in the ring for me honestly, to make an adjustment. I’ve seen everything you know.

“Different styles define the American style as well. When guys do awkward things that throw me out of my comfort zone, I kind of think differently, and I know how to adapt to it.” Mercado is glad he didn’t turn pro in his teens, as some fighters do from Spanish-speaking nations. “They’re turning pro too early with not enough amateur experience. It affects them in the long haul when they have to fight a real fighter and don't know what to do in those situations.”

It's not likely to be quite as hot and humid in the Inland Empire on Saturday, but Mercado won’t take any chances. “I need to hydrate myself back up. Losing weight and making weight, it's a double negative when you're fighting. I won't have that problem this time.

“I want to change some things up from the last fight. I made some mistakes the last time, fundamental ones, and we're working on them in the gym, and I can't wait,” said Mercado. He intends to start his next knockout streak.

“Don't get me wrong, I wanted a better opponent. But all these guys don’t want to fight. So, you know, hopefully, with fights like these, as that I keep racking up with guys, they’ll lead to the top guys,” said Mercado.

Pressure to Perform

Tito Mercado hopes to start a new knockout streak on Saturday, seen here stopping veteran Hank Lundy. Photo: Rayal Navarrette

Tito Mercado hopes to start a new knockout streak on Saturday, seen here stopping veteran Hank Lundy. Photo: Rayal Navarrette

But there’s a different type of pressure to perform against a lesser opponent. No one gives a promising prospect like Mercado any slack. See Berlanga, Edgar.

Mercado agrees the fans will critique his performance whether he blows out an opponent or whether he underperforms in their eyes. “Right! They critique us on how we look bad or if we knock them out, they say that they were not that good.”

Adding to the pressure is the impressive talent pool in the 140-pound division. Mercado can’t afford a lackluster night. “As someone who is a real competitive weight class. I want to get in there with those guys. I’m an ambitious person, and I want to I feel like the better man as a fighter. That kind of stuff really motivates me to beat those guys in front of big crowds.”

Mercado plans one more fight in 2023 in mid-November. Then he jokes about enjoying the holidays. “Maybe I can eat some cake and cookies during the holidays.”

Mercado Isn't Playing, Even When He's Playing

One thing NY Fights knows Mercado will be doing during his downtime: crushing competitors playing Fight Night on X Box.

“Yeah, it's one of the many things I do. I like to fight in real life and in video games too,” said Mercado.

“I think because of the downtime, playing video games also gives you that competitiveness while resting. I mean, obviously you're not doing nothing. I feel like it's kind of like our little safe space to really compete. It’s a place at least for me, where I feel like I'm relaxing and still doing what I love competing and having a good time.

Game time is also family time for Tito. “Sometimes we don't have the time to actually hang out with family, but we're able to hang out at home for like maybe a cool 30 minutes to an hour. Video games help us relax and go back to the gym, but with a fresh new approach.”

Mercado admits he goes for it. “It’s pretty bad at times. I wouldn’t like to play any games against myself, I’ll tell you that,” he laughs. He says he works on certain moves or countermoves. Afterward, I'm like, ‘Man, that worked?’ Obviously, it's a video game. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But it definitely gives you a sense of creativity. I'm always trying new things. I hope the next Fight Night, they put me in it as a character in there!”

Mercado promises fans an early knockout, “second or third round. Better be in the seat early. Go grab your drinks quick!”

Saturday’s card will be broadcast live on Fight City Promotions’ YouTube channel. Mercado vs. Portillo is scheduled for ten rounds, but we advise you bet on the under.









Gayle Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist and the only woman journalist who is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). She is West Coast Bureau Chief based in San Diego, California.