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STORY OF PHILIPPINE BOXING PART XXVIII: LUISITO ESPINOSA, THE DARLING OF PHILIPPINE BOXING IN THE 80'S AND 90'S


PhilBoxing.com




After winning six straight fights, Luisito Espinosa however lost to Mexican Alejandro Gonzalez for the WBC international featherweight title by 2nd round KO on August 13, 1993 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

He chalked up four more wins over South Korean Heung Nam Yong by 2nd round TKO, Thailand's Singnum Chuwatana by 8th round KO, Japan’s Tomoaki Iwasa by 7th round KO, and Mexican Raul Perez by 1st round KO.

Espinosa was back at the top of the world becoming two-division champion by beating Mexico's Manuel Medina by unanimous decision to win the World Boxing Council world featherweight championship in December 11, 1995 at Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan.

In his first title defense, Espinosa knocked out Mexican Alejandro "Cobrita" Gonzalez in the 4th round in March 1, 1996 in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Mexican challenger went down in the Round 4 and was knocked out.

He then faced the hard-hitting Mexican challenger César Soto at the Rizal Park in Manila and came up with a convincing unanimous decision in front of his cheering countrymen, with no less than President Fidel V. Ramos also witnessing.

Espinosa stopped Nobutoshi Hiranaka by 8th round TKO in Fukuoka, Japan in November 2, 1996. The Filipino champion was leading in all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage.

In his fourth title defense in May 17, 1997, he rematched with Manuel Medina whom he previously dethroned as WBC champion. Luisito won by 8th round technical decision. The fight was stopped due to a cut on Espinosa's right eyebrow caused by an accidental headbutt and all three judges had Luisito leading on points.

In December 12, 1997, Espinosa won by 6th round TKO over previously undefeated Argentinean Carlos Rios in Koronadal City, South Cotabato. Rios was floored three times, once in the 1st, 3rd and 5th round.

The fight ended in a financial controversy for Espinosa as he was not fully paid of his purse due to some managerial disputes. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the former champion be paid with the unpaid amount after 22 years of court battle.

In August 15, 1998, Espinosa won a technical decision over previously undefeated Mexican Juan Carlos Ramirez in El Paso, Texas when an accidental head butt caused a cut on Espinosa and two of the three scorecards had Luisito ahead on points.

In his seventh defense of the WBC crown, he conquered Kennedy McKinney of Mississipi in Indio, California. McKinney went down once in 1st and once in 2nd round causing the stoppage of the bout.

Espinosa lost his title belt in May 15, 1999 to César Soto in a rematch in El Paso, Texas. The Mexican won by a controversial unanimous decision.

The following year, Espinosa battled Guty Espadas, Jr. in an attempt to win back the WBC featherweight title, which was left vacant by Naseem Hamed of England who defeated Soto. But "Lindol" was outpointed and lost a technical decision when the fight was stopped after an accidental head butt.

Espinosa lost three of his last seven fights and retired in 2005 after being stopped by Mexican Cristóbal Cruz. All of those wins were by knockout but he was also stopped in those four losses.

He spent his retirement training rising fighters and was able to survive financial and marital problems.

Espinosa fought 60 bouts, 47 wins, 26 victories by KO, 13 losses and 7 defeats by KO per Boxrec.com. During those years when he was WBA bantamweight and WBC featherweight world champion he was considered the "Darling of Philippine Boxing."


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.


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