Ernesto “Tito” Mercado (4-0, 4 KOs) is looking to make it five in a row as he's back in action this Thursday at the Hangar in Costa Mesa, California. The decorated U.S Olympic alternate turned pro after amassing an impressive 278-11 record as an amateur defeating names such as Malik Warren, Haven Brady Jr., and Aaron Aponte.
I had a chance to catch up with Mercado about the upcoming fight and more:
MJ: So, you got a few fights under your belt. What's the biggest difference since you've turned pro that you've seen?
EM: I definitely feel a lot more comfortable now and am setting my shots up. I see things a lot more clear. I slow things down. So as far as that, that's great. But you know, I'm hoping this Thursday when my fight with this guy that the veteran who has over 30 fights that I'm able to get more around them and feel more and more experience off of being in the ring.
MJ: The fight is slated for six rounds. What have you been doing differently in preparation for Thursday?
EM: Honestly, everything is the same, you know. As the rounds go up, there's not so that you do something different, just a little bit extra work. Maybe a little more sparring. But you know, if you know, people saying, Oh, you got to work out four hours for a certain amount of rounds, that's not necessarily true. I'm prepared for an eight-rounder right now.
MJ: During your childhood, your father set up a gym to help prevent you from staying off the streets. How has that and boxing as a whole helped you avoid the same pitfalls he had?
EM: Pomona, California, is where I reside, and it's a very gang-affiliated area. A lot of prostitutes, narcotics, and stuff like that. It honestly takes my mind off all that. I think my dad would keep me in a straight line, always never letting go on the route that he did.
You know, honestly, I don't know where I would be if I wasn't in boxing. I'd be out in the streets gang banging, doing something that. It definitely gave me an outlet because of boxing. I've been able to go to so many states, so many countries, travel all over the world, and become the boxer that I am. With the person I'm becoming, a lot of kids come to me, so it's great to be able to mentor and help them out and get them out of situations. Keeping them in here (the gym) and just you know, keep them out of trouble.”
MJ: Mentoring kids is something you got from your dad. Now that you are the one they look up to, how does it feel?
EM: It's great but, being so young as well, it's a responsibility as well. You got eyes looking at you, and you know, even though I'm human and I'm young and like to do good, sometimes we make mistakes. It could be good and bad because now you have eyeballs on you, but I'd love to always be a good role model for the kids.
MJ: How active did you want to be in the ring for 2022?
EM: This will be my second fight this year, but I want to have at least seven or eight fights this year.
MJ: On your Instagram account, you are posing in Nike's. Talk to me about your shoe collection.
EM: I actually have a couple of Nike Dunks. I'm a real big shoe head. I love Jordan's man. Probably have like over like ten pairs. Any shoe that's considered collectible, Imma take it.
You can follow Marquis Johns on Twitter @weaksauceradio .