Hector Camacho: Destined for Greatness Part I

By Christian Giudice on June 21, 2018
Hector Camacho: Destined for Greatness Part I
A tough guy, Louie Loy was not a bad fighter, but he wasn’t in Camacho’s league. (AP)

Was he a young Ray Leonard? Did he remind the old-timers of Willie Pep? Or was he a new brand of fighter who was about to take over the sport?

In this day and age, we have a tendency to exaggerate a young prospect’s worth. It may not be the norm to brand a developing fighter as “the next great one,” but it is easy to become enamored with the rapid growth of a young fighter. Putting young fighters blessed with talent on a pedestal is nothing new. But rarely do they become the fighters we expect them to; there are too many variables both inside and out that affect young fighters. Yet, in the early 1980s, a young boxer embodied all of the qualities that we look for in a fighter destined for greatness. In many ways, he was a sure thing. That fighter was Hector “Macho” Camacho. As the accolades piled up in the early years of his career, one thing was clear—they were all true. Camacho deserved every single one of them.

Fans got a glimpse into the making of the young superstar on July 11, 1982 when Camacho faced Louie “Golden” Loy at the Felt Forum in NY. In the midst of a blistering set of events that had unfolded in mere seconds in the seventh round, poor Loy found himself bouncing off the bottom rope with referee Tony Perez standing over him and saving him from any further punishment. A tough guy, Loy was not a bad fighter, but he wasn’t in Camacho’s league. Nevertheless, Loy, 15-0-1, was facing an irrepressible force. Judging by the downtrodden look on Loy’s face earlier in the round when Camacho spun him around, shielded the referee with his back, nailed the defenseless Loy with an unimpeded right hook, and then walked away like a child about to get scolded, it was clear that victory was no longer obtainable. But that’s what Camacho did back then to good and great fighters—he stripped them of their confidence and identities and molded them to exactly whom he wanted them to be.

Loy had no choice but to acquiesce.

The same could be said about Filipino fighter, Johnny Sato. After Camacho defeated Loy in July 1982, he returned on August 28 to face Sato at the Sands Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ. At the time, Camacho was being groomed as a CBS darling, replete with good looks and matching charm. Legendary boxers and respected analysts were salivating over his God-given talents. Working alongside the broadcast team of Gil Clancy and Tim Ryan, Sugar Ray Leonard did not back away from claiming Camacho had the skill and charisma to follow in his footsteps; likewise, Clancy gushed that “Camacho could out-Ali, Ali,” when addressing the similarities between the fighters. What it boiled down to was that Camacho was doing things in the ring that 20-year-olds were not supposed to be doing, and, it appeared, that he was accomplishing these complex tasks with relative ease. The 130-pound weight class was not rife with great talent, in fact, a lot of the fighters at 130 pounds were veterans on the tail end of their careers. Eventually Camacho would zero in on WBC champion Bobby Chacon.

If Loy was resolute and fearless, Sato, ranked sixth by the WBC at 130, proved predictable and easy fodder for Camacho. Despite being outclassed, Sato, 18-8, was able to fend off Camacho with a big straight left when the Puerto Rican got careless in the third round. Early in the fourth round, Camacho landed a short left that forced Sato into escape mode, and then followed up with his two patented right hooks that sent Sato down. Referee Larry Hazzard counted Sato out and the fight was over. 

Although Camacho was several fights from a title shot, he was clearly on a path to stardom. Those that tried to bully him quickly discovered how strong—and dirty—he was. Others like Sato who tried to get inside recognized the peril in attempting to wade through six- and seven-punch combinations. And those who tried to stay on the outside and create space had no chance to overcome Camacho’s speed and movement. What people were witnessing was a tantalizing blend of speed and boxing intellect that was hard for them to identify. Was he a young Ray Leonard? Did he remind the old-timers of Willie Pep? Or was he a new brand of fighter who was about to take over the sport? Only time would tell, but at the moment, this young phenom was making all the right moves.

Christian Giudice
Author: A Fire Burns Within: The Miraculous Journey of Wilfredo Gomez
Author: The Rise and Fall of Alexis Argüello
Author: Hands of Stone: The Life and Legend of Roberto Duran

Website: christiangiudice.com
Email: christiangiudice@hotmail.com

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Hector Camacho vs Louis Loy - 1982-07-11 - CBS Broadcast

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  1. Kid Blast 04:12pm, 06/22/2018

    “He [Rosario] hit me. Wham! Wham!” Camacho told Sports Illustrated after the fight. “I say, Damn, it doesn’t hurt, but it sure feels funny. Wham! Damn! I fought a war and I can tell you right now, Hector Camacho don’t like no damn wars.”

  2. Kid Blast 04:07pm, 06/22/2018

    FD, LMAO. No, he did “the wild thing” while driving his car

  3. FrankinDallas 01:22pm, 06/22/2018

    Kid…are you suggesting that he had spent more time with the similar sex?

  4. Your Name 12:37pm, 06/22/2018

    I was ringside at MSG the night of Camacho - Rosario working the card as a second for some of the undercard fighters & Camacho showed an amazing chin & great heart in surviving “Chapo’s” lethal bombs that night. Particularly during that hellacious 11th round. As others have pointed out here previously though, it was a career-changing night for him. He was never quite the same Camacho again afterward.
    As for the decision, Rosario was very unlucky to have lost that night & Camacho knew it. I thought he won seven of the twelve rounds but “Chapo” won two of his five rounds by two-point margins on my scorecard resulting in a 113-113 score. But, most others in attendance thought Rosario had done enough to win.

  5. Kid Blast 08:53am, 06/22/2018

    Really good posts on this thread. Civil and compelling.

  6. Pete The Sneak 07:46am, 06/22/2018

    ” but in retrospect it may have been more what he was putting up his nose rather than whom he was taking to bed.”...

    Lucas,  Insiders like Ray knew the deal and the ‘Yeyo’ was what I think he meant as well…Peace.

  7. Lucas McCain 06:23am, 06/22/2018

    After Camacho blew out Bazooka Limon in 83, Ray Leonard as commentator raved about the youngster’s skills, but then added some dark hint about problems—“if ” he learns to control bad habits, or something like that.  Didn’t know what he meant then.  I’m sure it was “time with opposite sex” as Kid Blast says, but in retrospect it may have been more what he was putting up his nose rather than whom he was taking to bed.

  8. Pete The Sneak 04:05am, 06/22/2018

    Nice write up. Can’t wait for the next installment. I saw Hector fight in the Old MSG Felt Forum as he was coming up. His hand speed was something to behold. He was the whole package and in those early years and in my eyes at the time there was no one better. However, I do agree with Toro. He had two separate careers, before Chapo Rosario and after. When he fought Rosario, he was hit more (and harder) than he ever had in any fight up to that point. Obviously, Camacho was not with that and shortly after that fight he became the defensive minded, fight only in short spurts type of fighter we got to see for the rest of his career. Still, he was always must see television when he fought. Peace.

  9. Kid Blast 06:27pm, 06/21/2018

    Good topic for a series of articles. I am full of self-loathing that I didn’t think of it first.

  10. Kid Blast 06:25pm, 06/21/2018

    Hector had at least two careers. The first one was pre-Rosario during which time his hand speed, flash and ring movement were not equaled until Loma came along IMO. The second career was post-Rosario where he fought more cautiously and for a stretch stood down on his punches and got some good KOs. He did get a gift against Duran, however.

    Remarkable fighter who could have been even better had he trained more and spent less time with the opposite sex.

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