31.10.03 – By Dennis Principe: THE thrilling two-decade ride to fame and limited fortune of two-division world champion Luisito Espinosa may have already reached its dead end. No less than Espinosa’s discoverer, broadcaster Hermie Rivera urged the Tondo-born prizefighter to “call it a day” after all their efforts to stage an International Boxing Organization (IBO) title fight in Manila this December went for naught.
The decision to shelve the IBO title match pitting defending champion Cassius Baloyi of South Africa versus Espinosa as challenger stemmed from the latter’s failure to secure a parole visa from the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
“Sayang. I’ve done what is needed working tirelessly in tandem with Noel (Rivera’s son) burning the wires till the wee hours of the morning pero bigo pa rin.” Said Rivera in a recent interview. “ I have no other option but to convince the two-time champ to hang it up. I’m certain Louie will balk but we’ve been given no room to sidestep this mean low blow coming from south of the boarder.”
The 35-year old Espinosa is facing problems regarding his unclear status as a US resident which, according to Rivera, will just cause as a distraction that could derail the Filipino boxer’s dream of becoming Asia’s first three-division world champion.
Espinosa’s hopes of gaining his permanent US residency hinge on his daughter Janica who was born in the United States two years ago.
Espinosa was able to get an I-140 visa about four years ago for his exceptional ability as a professional boxer.
In spite of this, his application for a green card may be cancelled and could be barred from entering the US should he travel to Manila without parole visa.
But Rivera was resolute in saying that those who insist in postponing the IBO title setto hoping the INS would have a change of heart are in for a big letdown.
Rivera said there were initial plans of postponing the card until early next year to give Espinosa ample time in getting his parole visa.
However, the camp of Baloyi reportedly balked at the idea, saying it will cause a longer inactivity for the South African fighter.
Baloyi last fought on October 26, 2002 where he defeated countryman Mbulelo Botile via 11th round TKO in Carnival City, South Africa.
“The likelihood of staging this thriller is akin to finding a hen’s tooth at Don King’s palatial pad” Said Rivera.
Espinosa won his first world crown by stopping Thai legend Khaokor Galaxy in the first round to annex the World Boxing Association (WBA) bantamweight title on October 18, 1989 in Bangkok, Thailand.
He then captured his second world crown, the World Boxing Council (WBC) Featherweight belt by decisioning Mexican Manuel Medina on December 11, 1995 in Tokyo, Japan.
Espinosa’s last fight was a first round demolition of Mexican Marco Angel Perez on March 27, 2003 at the Oakland Arena in California.
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