Hector Camacho in the Hall
By Ted Sares
Personalities should not be included among the criteria for getting into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Let's get through that knothole at the outset. Hector Luis "Macho" 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 impact his abilities), so let's break down his chances of getting into the Hall once he retires...if he hasn't already....and let's do it on the basis of what he has accomplished in the ring
1) Record: W 78 (37 ko's) L 5 D 2 Total 85 That's a lot of fights in todays boxing world, but "The Macho Man" spaced his fights carefully and paced himself well over his long career. Back in the pre '80's, he was a multiple N.Y. Golden Gloves Champion. Born in Bayamón, 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.
2) Quality of opposition: Outstanding. He defeated Ray Mancini, Roberto Duran (twice), Sugar Ray Leonard, Tony Menefee, Heath Todd, Gary Kirkland, Luis Maysonet, Jorge Vaca, Todd Foster, Pat Lawlor, Reyes Antonio Cruz, Greg Haugen, Tony Baltazar, Ken Sigurani, Howard Davis, Jr, Cornelius Boza Edwards, Freddie Roach, Vinny Paz, Edwin Rosario, Jose Luis Ramirez ( a member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame), Rafael Limon, John Montes, Greg Conversion, Melvin Paul, and Louis Burke. He was defeated by Julio Cesar Chavez, 108-6-2, Felix Trinidad, 42-2, Greg Haugen, 40-10-1(he lost by an extremely controversial decision when, inexplicitly, he was penalized for not touching gloves before the last round; he won the rematch), Oscar De La Hoya, 38-4, and Chris Walsh, 19-7-1 by TD. He didn't fight either Chacon or Pernell Whitaker, but not from his own doing. Bobby Chacon chose to fight Ray Mancini, and the Duvas never made the match with Whitaker.
3) Era: 1980-2005...multiple eras over a 25 year boxing career. Camacho has been fighting for 25 years. When you consider that Archie Moore's career spanned 27 years, you get a better perspective....though Hector's fight 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 "whose who" of tough fighters; it includes an astounding fourteen world champions including Hall of Famers, Sugar Ray Leonard and Edwin Rosario, and at least four future inductees (De La Hoya, Duran, Chavez, and Trinidad). And to Camacho's credit, he has never been stopped and has been down arguably only once. In 1989, when he met former world lightweight champion Ray "Boom Boom " Mancini (who was 29-3 with 23 knockouts coming into the fight), Camacho won a unanimous decision for the vacant WBO Junior Welterweight title. In so doing, he joined an exclusive "club" of world champions boxers who have become three-time world champions
4) Style: 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 enthusiastic about him in his early career. Indeed, 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, but then he met tough 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. After the fight, his face busted up, he kiddingly said, "Hey, if this is macho, I don't want no part of it."
With his more conservative, albeit less crowd pleasing style in place, he then fought a long list to top contenders and former champions. In 1994, he seemed to change his style once more using flat footed power to score some impressive ko's. Included among his stoppage victims were contenders Luis Maysonet and Todd Foster. He drew with rugged Jorge Vaca in 1999 and then cut back on the frequency of his fights, His last fight was in July 2005 when he beat the limited Raul Munoz by UD in Tuscon. Whether he fights again remains to be seen, but he has become a regular at the Hall's induction ceremonies in upstate New York and I would not be surprised to see him fight one more time.
At the end of the fight, what counts most is whose hand the referee raises. In the case of the Macho Man, his hand was raised 78 times and that's not bad. Whether he gets into the Hall or not is not my decision, but I believe a compelling case can be made for his induction. Great opposition, three-time world champion, a long career....that's enough for me. Either way, and with his considerable business acumen, he will likely leave the game on his own terms.
Ted Sares is a boxing historian and writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org