The Tale of Rustico Torrecampo

Ted Sares takes a look back at a man whose record doesn't stand out on paper, and whose biggest win has taken on the quality of legend or myth at this point.

* * * * *

Oh my God, it's over, it's over, oh my God. It's over. His eyes are crossed. Oh my gosh!

--TV Announcer

When he went down, I knew he wouldn't get up. The referee could've counted to 100 and he wouldn't have been able to recover. I prepared for him. I knew after throwing a jab, he would follow up with a straight or an uppercut. I waited for him to jab, then I countered.

-- Rustico Torrecampo

This relatively unknown Filipino light flyweight fought from 1993-1997 and finished with an unremarkable 14-8-5 mark, though 5 draws in 27 fights is a bit unusual. He was 1-4-1 in his last six outings with his sole win (and arguably his career second best) coming against solid Noel Tunacao (28-4-2 at the time). But it was on February 9, 1996 in Mandaluyong City, Manila, where he would win his biggest fight, though he would not know it at the time. His opponent, 11-0 and being touted as a comer, failed to make the weight and according to relaible sources was mandated to wear eight-ounce gloves, compared to Torrecampo's six-ouncers. This was a penalty for weighing over the limit, and ostensibly to level the playing field.

During the fight, Rustico controlled the action through the first two rounds over his poorly prepared and overconfident foe and then stepped things up in the third. As both parried, Torrecampo nailed a perfectly timed hook to the body of his heavier opponent as he was starting to come in. Many claim it was a head shot that ended up as a body shot, others say it was a fully torqued, incoming shot to the right side of the body, and a few contend it was a low blow. After maybe 300 reviews of the video, I am still not certain, but it did appear to be a borderline body shot, though a case can be made for each argument. At any rate, head, body, or low, it was academic, because the Kibawe native went down in a heap and was counted out after which the referee picked up his body like he was picking up a rag doll. He no longer was undefeated, though to his great credit and determination, he shook off the loss as a learning experience and immediately launched a streak of 15 wins, 13 ending by stoppage.

As for Torrecampo, he failed to capitalize on the upset victory. A month after winning another fight against Ricky Sales, he suffered a wrist injury for which he inexplicitly failed to get medical treatment. The memory of his boxing career is immortalized by the grisly sight of a small bone sticking out of his left wrist, the ugly result of that fracture not healing properly.

More recently (and after his retirement from the ring), he was involved in a vehicular dispute in Tondo that, after a heated argument, resulted in a killing. As a result, Rustico remains a fugitive from the law. Yet, wherever he is, he will forever be able to tell his children and grandchildren that, "I knocked out one of the greatest Featherweights to ever step into the ring."

His name was Manny Pacquiao.

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