Can Luisito Espinosa the unpaid "Earthquake" rise again?
By Hermie Rivera
19 Nov 2015
Let's hear it from an 'ol buddy Teddy Benigno, an intellectual who knew his boxing like it was goin' out of style.
He was fearless, a firebrand and many think his prose have sparked upheavals such as EDSA.
He thrived on adversity and his thoughts on what some call the Sweet Science are haymakers that lead fans to roar high into the night.
'Here’s The Score' (December 2, 1998, The Philippine Star)
“About seven years ago, Hermie Rivera was waxing eloquent about his latest pugilistic acquisition.
Well, Hermie was telling me and Raul Locsin, publisher of Business World, that he had in his stable the next bantamweight champion of the world.
You never know when to believe or not believe Hermie Rivera.
The guy once called himself the Nora Aunor of radio, held his audiences at times spellbound with a kind of high-decibel hokum he would dish out as the latest revelation from the Virgin of Antipolo.
I knew Hermie was part-time into boxing, but corralling the next bantamweight champion of the universe, was to me a little bit too much.
But I took him on. So we moseyed over to a downtown gym. And there he was, shy, puckish, curly-haired, very laid back, almost
scrawny and at the time unbeknownst---Luisito Espinosa.
Could he box? Yes, he could. In three rounds of sparring, Luisito showed hand-speed and leg speed.
He exhibited the swiveling gear-thrust of a body that could move with versatility in a boxing ring. The boy had obviously seen a lot of film footage about Sugar Ray Robinson six-time world champion (welterweight and middleweight). Sugar Ray was acclaimed by many as the greatest fighter of his time.
So the studied shuffling was there as Luisito moved around, jabbed, crossed over rights, left-hooked.
Shuffling enables a fighter to move swiftly and elusively, never standing still.
He can shoot like a sniper, take fewer punches from the opponent, get him to guess all t time. Luisito was still raw at the time, inexperienced for world combat. But he impressed me.
The bandoliers of sock were wrapped around his body, mostly the left hook, and the jabs. He had rapier speed, the instinct for combat. That was important.
Well, he did become world bantamweight champion and afterwards world featherweight champion.
Luisito had good fights and bad fights. Rows with managers. And
the big lucre escaped him, prizefight money in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. His last fight in El Paso, Texas, last August 1998, was so-so, a mediocre 11th round TKO over a clumsy opponent, Juan Carlos Ramirez.
A new outfit, this time America Presents, made sure Luisito Espinosa would feel good, look good, fight good.
Cable TV would record his title fight with Kennedy McKinney for posterity. You’re seen on HBO, and you’re seen the world over. McKinney may not have been a patsy.
But he was just what the doctor prescribed. A Seoul gold medalist hobbled by a long layoff, the WBC’s No. 8 super-bantamweight, McKinney, lighter and a bit shorter, was tailor-made for Luisito. He was a stand-up bartender. He set up shop with an open threat to come in and blow up the world featherweight champion with a hand grenade.
Luisito probably faked it. He was a different Luisito this time no longer moving around, shuffling.
He was a rockslide waiting to happen.
The first rockslide punch was a right that had McKinney squinting and quavering like a mongoose in a sudden shower of light.
Then the lefts came. McKinney staggered back, fell on the canvas with the thud of a pomelo unhinged by sudden wind from an overhanging branch.
He looked sick nobody told him that Luisito could punch that hard. His handlers assured him it was a lucky punch and Espinosa was up for grabs.
The second round opened. He should have run all the way to Poughkeepsie. Luisito had the bombs. So in the second round, Luisito poured it on, the same way a cheetah does when it has a gazelle by the throat. McKinney simply slumped over and the referee knew what to do. Stop the slaughter.
You hit that jaw on the button. The eyes narrow into slits. The knees go into a kind of gumamela dance, tremor goes up and down the legs like a jelly invasion and you know you have your man.
And that was what Luisito Espinosa that night.
Photo: Hermie Rivera (R) with Hall of Fame trainer Nacho Beristain.
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