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Ernesto Mercado Aims to Dazzle as DAZN Headliner: ‘It’s Time for the World to See’

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Ernesto “Tito” Mercado, Boxing Scene’s 2023 Prospect of the Year, will graduate to a grander stage Friday as the touted fighter looks to further prove his promise.

Mercado (14-0, 13 KOs) will headline a Red Owl Boxing show on DAZN in Houston, taking on Deiner Berrio (22-4-1, 13 KOs) in a 10-round junior welterweight bout.

Mercado, 22, has been making minced meat of his opposition since turning pro in 2021. He has already knocked out the likes of former world title challengers Hank Lundy, Jeremiah Nakathila and Jayson Velez in nine combined rounds, and gone the distance for the only time in his ascendant career against durable gatekeeper Xolisani Ndongeni.

A native of Pomona, California, Mercado has not yet signed with a promoter. He has been pulverizing opponents primarily on smaller shows across Southern California.

Now he seeks a breakthrough – and showcase-worthy performance – on DAZN.

“It’s exciting to know that Red Owl Boxing has the confidence in me to put me as the headliner and to know that I can put on a great show for them,” Mercado told Boxing Scene. 

“A lot of people feel pressure once they see the bright lights, but I don’t feel any pressure. It’s finally time for the whole world to see me now, and I am excited for it. I want to prove that I can do what I have been doing – only this time on a bigger stage.”

After stopping Nakathila inside two rounds in November, Mercado had a Jan. 27 fight date fall through for a 360 Promotions show because an opponent couldn’t be secured. Mercado moved his focus to headlining a Feb. 10 show for Marv Nation, but his opponent was grossly overweight and the fight was scrapped the day before.

Mercado finally secured a fight for Feb. 24 in Tijuana, Mexico, and subsequently stopped Cristian Bielma inside two rounds. 

With just 39 rounds under his belt, Mercado, who is trained by his father Neto Mercado, wants to gain more experience.

“I would love to get more rounds in,” the fighter said. “It’s been a blessing and a curse knocking these guys out so quickly. I want the experience, and I want the rounds. I also don’t get the fulfillment out of the work I put in an entire training camp. But it’s fun to put them away so quickly and keep the fans happy.

“I have a consistent track record of knocking these guys out, and I plan on keeping it that way to show what I am capable of and why everyone is high on me.”

Berrio, a 33-year-old Colombian contender, should provide Mercado with another test. Berrio, who has never before been stopped, last fought in 2021, going 10 rounds with Jose Valenzuela in a decision defeat. Berrio’s four career losses have come against undefeated fighters – all over his last six fights, dating back to 2017.

“I’m expecting a tough and sturdy guy who is looking to win,” Mercado said of Berrio. “He’s never been stopped before, so that’s something I’m looking to do, and to make a statement.

“I like to stay active. The more you get in the ring, the more you’re going to develop. I have a lot of faith. If I keep knocking on the door, someone is eventually going to open it. I’m just waiting for my chance.”

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