Boxing legend Luisito Espinosa receives justice 17 years later
MANILA, Philippines – After 17 years, Luisito Espinosa may finally get the small fortune owed to him.
The Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the two-division boxing champion from Tondo, Philippines, reversing a Regional Trial Court of Manila ruling that dismissed Espinosa’s claim for the $130,349 prize. The amount was owed him for his 1997 WBC featherweight title defense against Carlos Rios at Koronadal City, South Cotabato, Philippines.
The event, which was promoted by Manny Pacquiao manager Rod Nazario, veteran matchmaker Lito Mondejar, and former South Cotabato Governor Hilario de Pedro III, was the last time Espinosa ever fought in the country.
According to the fight contract, Espinosa was guaranteed by promoters $150,000 for the fight, plus $10,000 for training expenses. A third of the contracted amount, $50,000, was to be paid by October 31, 1997, in addition to training funds.
But with days to go before the fight, only $29,651 had been paid. A letter of guarantee was delivered the day of the fight, on December 6, 1997, promising the remaining balance of $130,349 by a deadline of December 16 of that year.
The court ruled that the estate of Nazario, who died in 2009, is liable for the amount, plus 12% annual interest from the judicial demand date on May 25, 1998 until June 30, 2013, with a rate of 6% from July 1, 2013 onwards.
The court has ordered Nazario’s heirs, including his wife Minita Chico-Nazario, and children Roderick Nazario, Rommel Nazario, and Karen Patricia Nazario-Couzaid to pay the fee.
The ruling can only be applied to assets and funds inherited from Rod Nazario.
The claim against Mondejar was dismissed because he was not a signatory of the contract, while the court absolved De Pedro for “failure to prosecute” on behalf of Espinosa.
The ruling couldn't come at a better time for the former WBA bantamweight and WBC featherweight champion, who has fallen on hard times since his career ended in 2005.
The 47-year-old Espinosa, whose career record rests at 47-13 (26 knockouts), had been living in California in past years, working different menial jobs such as stocking shelves at a Costco supermarket for 3 years, and flipping burgers at McDonalds for a year, among others.
Espinosa tells Rappler he has been working in Hong Kong as a boxing trainer at Everlast Fight and Fitness gym since November of last year after losing his job in the States.
“I hope I could already get the money I've worked hard for,” said Espinosa.
“I have been waiting for them to tell me when they could give me the money that they didn't pay me.”
'It's hard being alone'
Espinosa says he hasn't spoken to his children in years after his wife divorced him, and hopes the long delayed prize money can put him in a position to see his two eldest daughters, approximately 21 and 17, plus his 8-year-old son, in Pangasinan.
“It’s hard being alone,” says Espinosa.
Rommel Nazario, who took over operations for the In This Corner boxing television series and Rod Nazario Gym in Parañaque City after his father died, did not answer a phone call requesting comment on Tuesday.
Espinosa, known as Lindol, or Earthquake, crashed the international boxing scene when he knocked out Thai championship Khaokor Galaxy in one round in 1989, then moved up to 126 pounds in 1995 to defeat Manuel Medina for the WBC featherweight title in Japan, which he defended 7 times over 4 years. – Rappler.com