Ted Sares returns to Bad Left Hook this morning to look at the long career of Hector "Macho" Camacho, one of the most famous fighters of the last 30 years.
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"Hey, if this is macho, I don't want no part of it."
--a busted up Hector Camacho after his fight with Edwin Rosario
Hector "Macho" Camacho has had his share of legal problems, having been charged with burglary, drug possession and assault all on different occasions, so let's get through that knothole at the outset. Hector Luis Camacho can be very obnoxious, but so what? It's what happens in the ring that counts (unless, of course, a boxer's life style impacts his abilities), so let's take a look at his body of work now that he finally seems to be closing in on retirement---and let's do it on the basis of what he has accomplished in the ring.
W 79 (KO 38) L 6 D 2 Total 88. That's a lot of fights in today's boxing world, but "The Macho Man" spaced his fights carefully over his very long career. Back in the pre '80's, he was a multiple N.Y. Golden Gloves Champion. Born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, he became the first Puerto Rican to have won the World Boxing Championship (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) championships in the lightweight division. More specifically, the following highlight his accomplishments:
Amateur Record: 96-4
1978 New York Golden Gloves Flyweight Sub-Novice Champion
1979 New York Golden Gloves Bantamweight Open Champion
1979 Intercity Golden Gloves 119 Pound Champion
1980 New York Golden Gloves Bantamweight Open Champion
1980 Intercity Golden Gloves 125 Pound Champion
1981 NABF super featherweight title
1983 WBC super featherweight title
1985 NABF lightweight title
1985 WBC lightweight title
1989 WBO light welterweight title
1995 IBC welterweight title
1996 IBC middleweight title
1998 IBC light middleweight title
2001 NBA super middleweight title
2008 WBF International light middleweight title
Quality of opposition
Outstanding. He defeated Ray Mancini, Hall of Famer Roberto Duran (twice though some -including me-- think he was given a gift in one of those), Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard who he retired in neck-snapping fashion, Tony Menefee, Heath Todd, Gary Kirkland, Luis Maysonet, Jorge Vaca, Todd Foster, Pat Lawlor, Reyes Antonio Cruz, Tony Baltazar, Ken Sigurani, Howard Davis, Jr, Cornelius Boza Edwards, Freddie Roach, Vinny Paz, Edwin Rosario, Greg Haugen, Jose Luis Ramirez (the latter two are members of the World Boxing Hall of Fame), Rafael ‘Bazooka" Limon, John Montes, Greg Conversion, Melvin Paul, and Louis Burke. He was defeated by future Hall inductees Julio Cesar Chavez (108-6-2), Felix Trinidad (42-2), Greg Haugen (40-10-1agaisnt whom he lost an extremely controversial decision when. he was penalized inexplicitly not touching gloves before the last round; however, he won the rematch), Oscar De La Hoya (38-4), someone named Chris Walsh (19-7-1) by TD, and finally by veteran Saul "Baby" Duran on May 14, 2010. He didn't fight either Bobby Chacon or Pernell Whitaker, but not from his own doing. Chacon chose to fight Ray Mancini and the Duvas never made the match with Whitaker.
Multiple eras over a 30 year boxing career. When you consider that Archie Moore's career spanned 27 years, you get a better perspective, though Hector's fights have been far and few between in recent years. Nevertheless, he fought at or near the top of his divisions during eras that included great fighters. The list of his opponents reads like a "Who's Who" including an astounding fourteen world champions including Hall of Famers, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Edwin Rosario, and the aforementioned future inductees (De La Hoya, , Chavez, and Trinidad). And to Camacho's credit, he has never been stopped and has been down only once. In 1989, when he met former world lightweight champion Ray "Boom Boom " Mancini (who was 29-3 with 23 knockouts coming in), Camacho won a unanimous decision for the vacant WBO Junior Welterweight title. In so doing, he joined an exclusive "club" of world champion boxers who have become three-time world champions.
An imitator of Muhammad Ali's controversial and flashy style and flair, few could out finesse or out speed him. Boxing experts and fans were raving about him in his early career. Indeed, the Ali and Camacho's style was adopted by Roy Jones, Jr and Naseem Hamed, to name a few, and it brought excitement to their fights. However, he then met fellow Puerto Rican Edwin Rosario in1986. He dominated the early rounds, but had to hang on in rounds five, six and seven when he caught the fury and power of Rosario. He came back to take rounds eight and nine, but Rosario came on late. Camacho won the title fight by split decision, but afterwards his style changed into a more defensive one that seemed more safety first, avoiding punishment rather than engaging his opponents. With his more conservative, albeit less crowd pleasing style in place, he then fought a long list of top contenders and former champions.
In 1994, he changed his style once more using flat footed power to score some impressive KO's. Included among his stoppage victims were contenders Luis Maysonet and touted (at the time) Todd Foster. He drew with Jorge Vaca in 1999 and then began to cut back on the frequency of his fights. His last fight appeared to be in July 2005 when he beat the limited Raul Munoz by UD in Tucson. Three years later, he came back to stop Percy Ballard in Houston, Texas for something called the vacant World Boxing Foundation International Light Middleweight Title and the WBE Light Middleweight Title. A year later, he drew with equally well-traveled "Yori Boy" Campas (92-14 at the time), setting up with what appeared to be his final bout with Saul Duran in Kissimmee, Florida on May 14 of this year. However, even though he lost, he has not technically retired and may well fight again.
He has become a regular at the Boxing Hall's induction ceremonies in upstate New York and it would not shock me at all to see him fight at least one more time, maybe in Verona, NY or in Florida. And if it's in Florida, maybe Roy Jones Jr. might be available? Camacho ended Sugar Ray's run and I'd speculate that Roy would put an end to the Macho Man's long run, but they would both grab some cash in the process.
Now then, at the end of the fight, what counts most is whose hand the referee raises. In the case of Hector Camacho Sr., his hand was raised 79 times and that's pretty darn impressive. Whether he eventually gets inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame may be subject to some argument, but I strongly believe a most compelling case can be made for his induction. He fought great opposition; he became one of youngest World Champion in boxing history; he was a three-time world champion; he fought over a long period of time. Those are rock solid credentials.
One thing seems certain. He likely will leave the game on his own terms and few do that.