FORGOTTEN by boxing fans, former world champion Luisito Espinosa, once the toast of Philippine boxing, finally gets the break he very much needs, 18 long years after being persuaded to fight for the country for virtually nothing.

A world champion, Lindol was set to defend his belt against Carlos Rios in South Cotabato, though he won, he wasn’t able to receive his full purse due to a series of unfortunate events.

I was an 18-year-old correspondent working part-time while chasing a BS ECE degree at USC when I first followed the story. Yes, the Internet was already in the Philippines, but stories like that had to be chase by calling anyone you know through the phone.

Prior the fight, I remember calling the governor’s office of South Cotabato regularly to get access to info, using the kababayan angle and dropping names until the chief of staff and I finally found a common friend. They were very accommodating pre-fight. They clammed up post-barnyard-dung-hits-the-ceiling.

That Lindol was persuaded to fight without getting fully paid showed that a world champion isn’t immune to the sweet talks of promoters, who eventually failed to deliver. The fight was supposed to have a delayed telecast, but the plane that was supposed to carry the tape from Davao City to Manila never got to take off.

No tape, no telecast, no balance of the purse worth $130,000 of the promised $150,000. That’s peanuts compared to what the current toast of Philippine boxing Manny Pacquiao earns just by smiling.

But for Lindol,who suffered four knockout losses in his last six fights, it’s a gift from heaven. When a friend of mine offered to write a book about him, Espinosa was already wary of all sorts of interviewers that he wanted to be paid.

Who wouldn’t? Prior this ruling, he had launched appeals addressed to FVR, Erap and GMA, asking for help in getting his full purse. He even had a couple of interviews with high profile media personalities in primetime TV and he still didn’t get a single peso.

Now, it’s the Court of Appeals itself which has ordered the heirs of Rod Nazario, yes, the same guy who managed Manny Pacquiao and was depicted as the one who robbed him blind, to pay Lindol the balance of $130,000 plus 12 percent annual interest starting from May 25, 1998.

It has taken 18 years, I hope the actual payment to Lindol won’t take another 18.

(mikelimpag@gmail.com)