In the end, Hector “Macho” Camacho has left the game on his own terms and he did it HIS WAY. Few have done that…
“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 Louis “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. Camacho can be very controversial and obnoxious, but so what? It’s what happens in the ring that counts (unless, of course, a boxer’s life style impacts his or her ring performance). Let’s take a look at Camacho’s body of work now that he finally seems to be retired—and let’s do it on the basis of what he has accomplished in the square circle.
W 79 (KO 38) L 6 D 3 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 ‘80s, he was a multiple N.Y. Golden Gloves Champion. Born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, he moved to New York early and became the first Puerto Rican to have won the World Boxing Championship (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) championships in the lightweight division. The following highlights 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
2008 WBE Light Middleweight Title
Quality of Opposition
It was outstanding and if the total won-loss record of Camacho’s opponents (coming in) were tallied, the results would be astounding. He defeated Ray Mancini (for the vacant WBO light welterweight title), Roberto Duran twice (though some—including me—think he was given a gift in one of those), Sugar Ray Leonard who he finally retired in head-snapping fashion, Tony Menefee (62-4), Heath Todd, undefeated Gary Kirkland, heavy-handed Luis Maysonet, well-traveled Jorge Vaca (63-21-1), touted Todd “Kid” Foster (33-3), Pat Lawlor, Reyes Antonio Cruz (37-2-1), slick and tough Tony Baltazar (34-3-1), Ken Sigurani (22-2), Olympian Howard Davis Jr. (29-3-1), former world champion Cornelius Boza Edwards (44-5-1), Lonnie Horn (24-2), Freddie Roach, former two-time champion Vinny Pazienza (for the WBO light welterweight title), and, of course, fellow Puerto Rican Edwin “Chapo” Rosario (28-1).
He also whipped ultra- tough Greg Haugen and durable Jose Luis Ramirez (both of whom are members of the World Boxing Hall of Fame), Rafael “Bazooka” Limon (for the vacant WBO light welterweight title), and Rafael Solis (29-3-2) whose career he essentially ended as Solis went 1-9 thereafter. A “prospect assassin” of sorts, Camacho beat Canadian Rick Souce (14-1), Cuban Irleis “Cubanito” Perez (25-0), John Montes (22-1), Louis Loy (15-0-1), Greg “Candy Man” Conversion (32-0), Melvin Paul (16-0), Panamanian contender Rafael Williams (19-1), Troy “TNT” Lowry (24-1), and Louis Burke (19-1).
He was defeated by Hall inductee Julio Cesar Chavez (81-0 coming in), future inductee Felix Trinidad (22-0), Greg Haugen (27-3), against whom he lost a SD when he was penalized inexplicitly, stubbornly, and stupidly (on his part) for not touching gloves before the last round; however, he won the rematch by SD, Oscar De La Hoya (25-0), someone named Irish Chris Walsh (19-7-1) by a cut-induced TD in 2003, and finally by veteran Saul “Baby” Duran on May 14, 2010. He also had a draw with Yori Boy Campas (92-14) in 2009. He never fought Bobby Chacon or Pernell Whitaker. Chacon unwisely chose to fight Ray Mancini and the Duvas wisely never made the match with Whitaker. Yes, the Macho Man lost to the best opponents he faced, but most occurred when he was fading and he took them like—well a Macho Man.
“He was bigger in America [than Puerto Rico]—he was a New Yorker.”—His promoter Mike Acri
Unlike beloved Puerto Rican legends such as Wilfred Benítez, Wilfredo Gomez, and Tito Trinidad, Camacho was really a New Yorker who happened to be Puerto Rican and he never really endeared himself to Puerto Rican fans the way other Puerto Rican legends did.
He fought in multiple eras during 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. As indicated above, the list of his opponents reads like a “Who’s Who.” 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 boxers who have become three-time world champions.
“From old ladies to little girls, I hear, ‘You better knock him out for me. I hate him.’ I say, ‘OK, I’ll try.’ I don’t know what it is. People just don’t like him.”—Oscar De La Hoya
An imitator of Muhammad Ali’s controversial and flashy style and flair, few could out-finesse or out-speed him, but his over-the-top costumes (such as the Gladiator outfit he wore coming into the SRL fight) and the not-so-macho flamboyance turned off many fight fans. But in his early career, experts and fans raved about him. What separated Hector from the rest were his in-and-out speed, extraordinary foot movement, cute turns and angles, and slick and often unorthodox counter moves. The Ali and Camacho style was adopted by Roy Jones Jr. and Naseem Hamed to name two, and it brought excitement to their fights.
However, Camacho then met fellow Puerto Rican Edwin “Chapo” 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 (the scoring went as follows: judge Tony Castellano 113-115, judge Luis Rivera 114-113, and judge Stuart Kirshenbaum 113-115), but afterwards his style changed dramatically into a more defensive one designed to avoid the kind of punishment “Chapo” meted out.
Said Larry Merchant,” I don’t know whether his personality undermined him or if how he started to fight after the Rosario fight did, when he decided he’d rather be a cautious fighter than a crowd-pleasing one…His crowd-pleasing would come in his personality, not his fighting, with the ring entrances and costumes. He understood the value of self-promotion and was good at it.”
With his more conservative style, he fought a long list of top contenders and former champions but his nickname of “Macho” no longer seemed appropriate.
In 1994 with his speed eroding, the Macho Man changed his style once more using flatfooted power to score some impressive stoppages. Included among his victims were contenders Luis Maysonet and 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 punish and stop Percy “The Punisher” Ballard (20-1) in Houston 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 what appeared to be his final bout with Saul Duran in Kissimmee, Florida on May 14, 2010. However, even though he lost, he did not announce his retirement. As the Macho Man approaches 50, that seems academic unless he pulls a Saul Mamby (who was 60 at the time of his last fight in 2008).
Hector has become an affable regular at the Boxing Hall’s induction ceremonies in upstate New York and some have gone so far as to speculate (or maybe fantasize) that he might fight at least one more time, maybe in Florida where an aging Roy Jones Jr. could be made available. But that’s more fantasy than speculation.
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. He fought great opposition; he became one of youngest World Champions in boxing history; he was a three-time world champion; he never quit on his stool; he fought over a long period of time; and he fought in some 20 different locations. Those are rock solid credentials. However, he needs to retire officially so the clock can begin counting for his inevitable induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and into the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
In the end, Camacho has left the game on his own terms and he did it HIS WAY. Few have done that.