Hector “Macho” Camacho’s life was full of tumult, yet the toll of time and the demons from his personal life didn’t keep him away from the ring.
Sadly, the unfortunate end to Camacho’s life, as well as his boxing career, came as the result of a drive-by shooting. His family was forced to discontinue life support Saturday for a man who never went down without a fight.
Reflections on his career have begun, and we’ll begin with this one: We have lost one of the greats. When we look back at his career, the one thing that stands out is that he fought for a significant period of time, fought some of the best fighters of both his generation and all time … and managed to win nearly every time.
The fact that he was considering a fight in 2013, at the age of 50, shows us that Camacho’s boxing career was one of sustained excellence. He may have fought sporadically toward the end of his career, but even after the age of 40 Camacho went 5-2-1 against respectable competition. In an age when many fighters have long since left the sport, he still managed to rack up a number of victories for the love of the sport as opposed to fighting (and losing) because he needed the money.
When you look at his prime years as a fighter, the list of guys he fought becomes all that much more remarkable: Rafael Limon, Jose Luis Ramirez, Edwin Rosario, Ray Mancini, Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Roberto Duran, Vinny Pazienza, Greg Haugen, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya. Usually someone with that resume is a stepping stone on the way up or an elite level fighter who took on everyone that mattered. Camacho was the latter, of course, and it’s proven by a single, astonishing fact. He was never knocked out.
None of those opponents, who in their own rights have stopped laundry lists of opponents, stopped Camacho.
The man fought De La Hoya, Chavez and Trinidad (among others) when they were at their peaks in the lightweight division. Over 30 years, to face some of the hardest punchers in the sport, and some of the best fighters in the sport’s history, and never to have been stopped is a remarkable accomplishment. To go that many rounds with so many guys known for knocking out people, and lasting long enough to hear the final bell as well as listen to the judges’ scorecards, is a feat of legends.
The fact that he fought professionally for more than three decades while maintaining such a record, elevates Camacho into the upper echelon. To put it in perspective, it would take boxing’s two best age-defying fighters, James Toney and Bernard Hopkins, another six years to match that output.
And this doesn’t take into account Camacho’s amateur fights. Plenty of fighters have had substantial careers as professionals, but don’t have 100-plus fights as an amateur to boot. Add in a number of Golden Gloves championships to match four world titles, and it’s a body of work that almost feels fictional.
And sadly, this “Rocky”-like career has met an abrupt and tragic end. Camacho will, and should always be remembered as a world-class fighter, despite all the drama that accompanied his private life. His contribution to the sport of boxing will never be forgotten.