(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - The only Filipino to beat boxing icon Manny Pacquiao as a pro is at large, wanted for the murder of garbage truck driver Ernesto Ongkit in Tondo two weeks ago.

Rustico Torrecampo, 35, stabbed Ongkit twice over a disagreement caused by a road accident. Ongkit, 54, was pronounced dead on arrival at the Tondo Medical Center early morning last Sept. 11.

In 1996, Torrecampo knocked out Pacquiao with a left hook to the jaw at the Mandaluyong Sports Complex. It was Pacquiao’s first loss ever and broke a string of 11 straight wins. Pacquiao was poorly trained for the bout and wore eight-ounce gloves, compared to Torrecampo’s six-ouncers, as a penalty for weighing five pounds over the limit.

Torrecampo, however, failed to capitalize on the upset victory. A month after beating Pacquiao, he broke his left wrist during a bout against Ricky Sales and never went to a doctor for treatment. Torrecampo fell into hard times and retired from the ring in 1997 with a record of 14-8-5, with 7 KOs. The memory of his uneventful boxing career is immortalized by a small bone sticking out of his left wrist, the result of a fracture not healed properly.

As a pro, Torrecampo’s biggest paycheck was the P30,000 purse he got from a fight in Japan. He earned P6,500 for taking on Pacquiao and P17,000 – his largest local prize – in losing to Leo Ramirez in a Philippine lightflyweight title bout in General Santos City.

After hanging up his gloves, Torrecampo worked six days a week, 10 hours a day, loading furnaces at the Cathay Metal factory in Novaliches. His daily pay was P304. Last year, he quit the job and set up a roving sidewalk business, selling “mami,” fried rice and beef “asado” in a bicycle cart on Herbosa corner Maharlika, close to the new Pritil market in Tondo.

According to Maxim Magazine writer Ed Tugade, Torrecampo was allowed to park his sidecar near a health center in exchange for sweeping the streets in the vicinity. Torrecampo told Tugade he was taught how to cook by a chef from a popular restaurant and grossed some P900 a day.

It was while Torrecampo was making a living when Ongkit drove the Leonel Waste Management garbage truck into his sidecar, spilling the food on the street. Torrecampo demanded that Ongkit pay for the damage. But Ongkit ignored him, driving off in the truck. Torrecampo chased the truck on foot and caught up with Ongkit on Lallana Street. He jumped on Ongkit in the driver’s seat and stabbed him twice with a kitchen knife.

Realizing what he had done, Torrecampo dropped the bloody knife at the scene of the murder and ran away. A warrant has been issued for Torrecampo’s arrest and homicide detective Edgardo Ko is in charge of the manhunt.

A few days ago, sportswriter Virgie Romano said Torrecampo’s wife Cecille Camposano contacted a media group claiming the ex-fighter stabbed Ongkit in self-defense and begged for legal assistance. But she has since disappeared, her cellphone unattended.

When Pacquiao heard about Torrecampo’s plight, he called for him to surrender to the police and face the charges against him. He said hiding will only make matters worse for his one-time tormentor.

Romano mentioned former boxer Roy Fuentes is also wanted for recently murdering his live-in girlfriend and her seven-year-old grandson in their Tondo shanty.

Tugade said during an interview for a story that appeared in the September 2007 issue of Maxim Magazine, Torrecampo denied having ever received money from Pacquiao.

After their fight, Torrecampo and Pacquiao crossed paths only once – when the champion came back from Bangkok after capturing the WBC flyweight crown in 1998. They talked about their personal lives, not boxing, and just wished each other luck.

Torrecampo, whose father Escolastico was killed by New People’s Army rebels in Davao City in 1985, finished only up to first year high school. The fifth of eight children, he is a father of three – Ruscel Carl, 8, Carisa Rose, 7 and Rich Cymoun, 4.

In a Star interview in 2004, Torrecampo said he bet P800 on his idol Marco Antonio Barrera to beat Pacquiao. When Pacquiao halted Barrera, Torrecampo said he didn’t mind losing the wager.

“I’m happy for Manny,” said Torrecampo in Pilipino. “He’s lucky. He’s now rich. If he ever wants to see me, I might not be able to go because I’m tight for money. I’ll have to pay for transportation. But if he gives me P1,000, I’ll be absent from work for a day and see him.”

Torrecampo said he’ll never forget knocking out Pacquiao. “I took all his punches,” he recalled. “He never hurt me. 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. I hit him flush on the jaw. The referee stopped it because he couldn’t stand up straight.”

Torrecampo lived with his family, his wife’s parents and siblings in a crowded squatter’s home on Nepomuceno street in Tondo.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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