The report that the Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Luisito Espinosa in a case surrounding his purse for the defense of his World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title in 1997 is a very welcome development.
If Espinosa gets to collect the P17 million including the interest expenses as ordered by the court, that would be big boost to his current finances considering he never got to earn as big as Manny Pacquiao or even Nonito Donaire. And as far as I know, Espinosa has to work at menial jobs nowadays just to make ends meet. Does that sound familiar?
Before Pacquiao and Donaire made their mark in the local and international boxing scene, it was Espinosa who thrilled Filipino boxing fans with his graceful style in the ring. And at 5’8” he was actually too tall for the featherweight (126 pounds) or even junior lightweight (130 pounds) divisions. He was called “Lindol” or earthquake because his punches, during the best times of his career, literally rocked his opponents.
It was at featherweight where Espinosa excelled. After winning the WBC world featherweight title from Manuel Medina via 12-round unanimous decision on December 1995, Espinosa defended it successfully seven times before losing it to Cesar Soto by a 12-round decision on May 1999.
Soto and Espinosa actually squared off for the WBC crown on July 1996 but it was the Filipino who won via 12-round decision.
Espinosa’s last two fights were forgettable because he lost by seventh-round technical knockout to Carlos Navarro on July 2004 and to Cristobal Cruz via stoppage in the third round on February 2005. Both fights were staged in the United States with the hope Espinosa could reestablish a winning run for another world title bid. But by 2005, Espinosa was already 37 years old and it may have been too late for him to establish another winning run at that time.
When he retired, Espinosa’s record was 47-13 with 26 knockouts.
After Espinosa hang up his gloves, Gerry Penalosa (55-8 with 37 KOs) rose to the occasion to represent the Philippines in the professional boxing scene.
And it was just a matter of time that Pacquiao would prove to the whole world that the Philippines can produce a top caliber fighter. Donaire also burst into scene later to show that the country can produce two world-class fighters simultaneously.
Although Espinosa also had his share of boxing fame, his retiring with little money in his pocket shows winning a world boxing title cannot guarantee a stable and secure future for pugilists. And his not getting properly paid for the defense of his title in 1997 could have worsened matters for him prior to his retirement – that is my opinion.
But come to think of it – Espinosa can even be thankful because collecting his long-due purse now (if that indeed happens) for the 1997 defense of his world title may even be a blessing in disguise, because by experiencing financial hardships, the former champion may now be wiser in handling money.
Let’s face it – most young people who earn wads of cash without having to go through a 12- to 16-hour daily work grind the corporate world demands are more likely to spend money like there is no tomorrow. And young top-caliber athletes are one of them.
I just hope Espinosa eventually collects his P17 million without a hitch. I also hope Espinosa handles his P17 million wisely. Let’s face it – P17 million is still a lot of money.