Ex-champ Espinosa hopes to fight Pacman

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jul 16 2011 10:53 AM | Updated as of Jul 17 2011 02:19 AM

COLMA, California – He’s rough. He’s tough. And he’s been to the top.

Former World Bantamweight and Featherweight Champion Luisito “Lindol” Espinosa said he’s ready to return to the ring.

Born and raised in Manila, Espinosa began training as a boxer at age 14. He turned pro in 1984 and eventually won world titles in two different weight divisions.

Espinosa said he cannot describe the feeling of being number one saying, “It’s a different high.”

But Espinosa knows it’s not going to be easy getting back that championship belt.

He lost 5 of his last 8 fights. He is 44 and has not been back in the ring since 2008.

But he said he is in the best shape of his life. He said, “I’ve kept my body health. I continue to train my moves. It’s never stopped.”

Besides, he said he is more focused now. He lost his last few fights, he explained, because he was distracted when his wife left him and married another man.

He shared, “I’m by myself now. My children are with her in Arizona.”

He also became disheartened when he was not paid $120,000 after he defended his world title against Argentinian Carlos Rios 14 years ago. He sued his former promoter.

Espinosa said, “My former promoter is dead. But I wish his wife or his child would pay me because I need it.”

In the US, Espinosa has struggled to make ends meet.

He worked at Costco, flipped burgers at McDonald’s and now works as a utility man at Filipino-owned Lucky Chances Casino in Colma, California.

“I get jobs fast because people still recognize me. But sometimes, I feel a sense of shame,” Espinosa said, describing his fall from grace.

For his comeback, the management of Lucky Chances Casino built him a ring in the property’s parking garage.

His manager at work, Kirk Stoner, also manages his boxing career now.

Of his comeback, Stoner said, “It’s for him to hold his head up high…to get the respect that he deserves. They called him ‘The Earthquake’ right?”

Espinosa said his ultimate goal is to fight friend and former training partner, Pound-for-Pound King Manny Pacquiao.

Stoner said, “For me, it’s a dream. The old legend and the new legend going head to head.”

Espinosa said, “I’m ready for it.”

He said all he needs is a chance to show the rest of the world that he could still be number one -- a fighter who beat the odds, not just in life, but in the world of boxing.

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