25 Years On: Recalling Rustico Torrecampo’s KO Win Over A Raw Manny Pacquiao

Living legend Manny Pacquiao has got plenty of us in a state of intrigue due to his recent tweet that informed his fans he is back in training, with “big news” to come soon. Speculation over who the incredible 42-year-old may fight in his next fight is high, and we brace ourselves for the big news.

Rewind to February 9, 1996 (a quarter of a century ago yesterday), and the young, 17-year-old Manny Pacquiao was not big news at all. Nor was his third-round KO defeat at the hands of countryman Rustico Torrecampo big news.

But this fight, this result, was destined to go down in history. Pacquiao, who went on to become one of the greatest fighters of all time, suffered his first loss, his first KO loss, to Torrecampo.

The two met in Mandaluyong City, Manila, the Philippines, and the agreed weight for the fight was 111 pounds, a catch-weight.

The young Pacquiao, who was 11-0 as a pro, failed to make weight, and his penalty was that of being made to wear bigger gloves than his rival – Torrecampo donning 6-ounce gloves, Pacquiao fighting with 8-ounce gloves. Hardly fair, but there you are. Pacquiao was still expected by most to be too good for the 11-4-5 Torrecampo.

Instead, after two largely dominant rounds during which the southpaw dynamo wobbled Torrecampo more than once, the older man by six years dramatically turned the tables. Timing Pacquiao’s attack, Torrecampo countered and crashed home with an overhand left that sent Pacquiao down and out. It was over after just 20 seconds of round three. It was far from global news at the time, but Torrecampo had scored by far the biggest win of his career.

Watching the fight today, invariably a bad quality version of the fight, this making the punch that much harder to spot, it is indeed tough to see what happened. Torrecampo’s left hands appear to miss Pacquiao’s chin, the punch then landing on Manny’s body.

Pacquiao falls into Torrecampo at this point, his head making contact with Torrecampo’s shoulder. And then down Pacquiao goes, his eyes rolling inside his skull. This was no phantom punch, no dive. Pacquiao was out cold.

Torrecampo never built on the win, emerging victorious in just two further bouts (losing four, drawing one) and retiring in early 1997.

Torrecampo made a one-fight comeback in February of 2011, winning by KO, before retiring for good. Pacquiao went on to become a multi-weight world champion and an all-time great of the sport.

And Manny is eying further enhancement to his legacy. Back when he was getting knocked stiff by Torrecampo, the teenage Pac Man could never have dreamed of ever having a legacy.