COMMENTARY | Tuesday, former world champ and all-around character, Hector Camacho, was shot and seriously injured in a drive-by shooting in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
According to the most current reports, Camacho is in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the face and neck and possibly dealing with a spine or brain injury that may forever impede his ability to walk.
All of the particular details of the crime have been reported, ad nauseam, by the press and have spread through social media like wildfire. The information is out there to be read and I've listed links at the bottom of this commentary for those interested in the crime scene reports.
In this piece, I want to share my perspective on the fighter and the man who came to be a vital character in the boxing scene for any fight fan growing up in the 80's and 90's.
To a Mexican-American kid raised in a heavily Mexican area of Chicago, Hector "Macho" Camacho was always the bad guy.
Flashy, brash and defiant, Camacho was the antithesis of the somber, seething Mexican hero. The Mexican fans watching Camacho labeled him a "coward," a "clown," and worse. From the fancy ring outfits to the signature curl hanging over his forehead, his presence in the sport, to some, was like a burning ember in the eye. Camacho provoked rage and anger in many, but nobody, ever, turned away from one of his bouts.
To his credit as a showman, Camacho brought attention wherever he went, delivering butts to seats and eyeballs to the screen. But at the core of it all, "Macho" Camacho was a damn good boxer.
The kid from Spanish Harlem by way of Bayamon, Puerto Rico was a buzzing, whirlwind of a fighter, full of self-confidence and world class ability. Camacho was a natural in the ring, a prodigy when it came to the technical and tactical fine points of the game-- a talent that allowed him to survive as a money-making pro long after his athleticism and reflexes began to fade. And he rode his God-given gifts to three New York Golden Gloves Championships as an amateur and, eventually, world titles in three different weight classes as a pro (super featherweight, lightweight, junior welterweight).
Some would say that the brutal 1986 defense of his WBC lightweight title against fellow-Puerto Rican, Edwin Rosario, in Madison Square Garden would be the turning point of his career-- convincing him to tweak his style and become a pure defensive stylist. That's debatable, but it is true that after going to war with Rosario, Camacho never again scored a stoppage over a top-level star (unless a faded Sugar Ray Leonard in 1997 counts).
But even with a defensive mindset, Camacho continued drawing fans and kept scoring quality wins.
In a six-year run from 1986 to 1992, "Macho" scored victories over Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Howard Davis Jr., Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, Vinny Pazienza, and went 1-1 with Greg Haugen. During this span of time, Camacho also became a legitimate crossover star-- and started partying like one.
Harmed by the fact that it all came so easy for him, he began to take things for granted. Time at the gym was replaced by time with his growing group of hangers-on and professional partiers. If he could beat this level of competition at less than 100%, why not ease up a bit?
Unfortunately for Camacho, the party lifestyle did take its toll. And, after an ugly drubbing at the hands of Julio Cesar Chavez in 1992 in a bid for Chavez's WBC 140 lb. title, Camacho was never the same.
Part fallout from a late night lifestyle, part life merely passing him by, it was never quite "Macho Time" again. The former three-time world titlist, who still spoke with the confidence of a champ, began to serve as fodder for younger, fresher talent like Felix Trinidad and Oscar De la Hoya.
To his credit, though, Camacho's ring smarts allowed him to run on fumes for nearly a decade more, entertaining fans in small club shows on basic cable and sparring with other aged, faded former champs like Roberto Duran and Yory Boy Campas.
After his ring career was over, Camacho would have several run-ins with the law and would actually survive one prior shooting attempt, in February of last year.
The 50-year-old Camacho has now been forced into one more battle. Hopefully, reports of his injuries have been exaggerated. Hopefully, his condition doesn't get worse. As of this writing, Camacho is in critical, but stable condition.
A silent prayer goes out to the "bad" guy who made my youth so much fun. It was a pleasure to root against "Macho" Camacho; It's now an honor to root for him.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
Reuters, Former boxing champ Hector Camacho wounded in Puerto Rico shooting: reports, Yahoo! Sports
Rey Colon, Camacho May Never Walk Again Due To Shooting, Boxingscene
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