It is news former world champion boxer Luisito Espinosa has long waited to hear.
In a decision dated Nov. 13, 2019, and made public Friday, the Supreme Court ordered the heirs of late boxing promoter Rod Nazario to pay $130,349 (P6.6 million) with interest due Espinosa for his world-title fight against Argentina’s Carlos Rios in Koronadal city, South Cotabato, in December 1997.
The high court rejected the petition filed by the Nazarios, after the Court of Appeals reversed a 2015 ruling by a Manila regional trial court that dismissed Espinosa’s claim.
Nazario’s estate includes his wife, Minita Chico-Nazario, and children Roderick Nazario, Rommel Nazario, and Karen Patricia Nazario-Couzaid.
Rod Nazario died in 2009.
“This case has been pending for many years and the Court would like to put the whole matter to rest. The scheduled fight pushed through and the respondent has not been given his prize money too long to be ignored,” the Supreme Court said.
“From the time of their agreement on Oct. 16, 1997 to the present, it has already been 22 years but respondent has not received the full amount of the prize due to him. Thus, the long delay entitles respondent to the payment of interest to compensate for the loss of income due to his unpaid earning.”
The high court also ruled that Espinosa was entitled to an annual interest of 6 percent from May 26, 1998, until full payment.
Espinosa, one of the country’s biggest boxing stars in the 1990s and earned the moniker “Lindol,” or earthquake, was guaranteed by promoters $150,000 for the fight, plus $10,000 for training expenses.
It was also stipulated in the contract that he should get $50,000, or one-third of his guaranteed purse, plus the $10,000 training expenses by Oct. 31, 1997.
But with days to go before the scheduled fight, Espinosa only received $29,651. During the eve of the fight, the balance remained unpaid, prompting the promoters to execute a letter of guarantee to pay the $130,349 balance.
The fight pushed through on Dec. 6, 1997, which saw Espinosa knocking out Rios. Despite repeated demands, however, he was not paid, which led him to file a complaint against promoters Rodolfo Nazario and Joselito Mondejar, and South Cotabato Governor Hilario de Pedro III.
The Manila City Regional Trial Court Branch 173 first dismissed Espinosa's case, which was later reversed by the appellate court.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the stipulations in the documentary evidence submitted by respondent bound Rodolfo, who died in 2009, as guarantor to pay the purse.
The case against Mondejar was dismissed after the court established he was not a signatory in the agreement and letter of guarantee. De Pedro, meanwhile, was absolved by the court for failing to prosecute him on behalf of Espinosa.
Espinosa, 52, who finished his career with 47 wins and 13 loss, including 26 knockout victories, has worked several jobs in California and as a boxing trainer in Hong Kong.
In an article on the Ring magazine website in 2015, he said: “I hope I could already get the money I’ve worked hard for.”
“I have been waiting for them to tell me when they could give me the money that they didn’t pay me.”
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