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Hector “Macho” Camacho: Ring Icon Poised for One Last Run at Immortality

Interview by Mike “Rubber Warrior” Plunkett

“You win and you lose. I was just honored to be a part of history” – Hector “Macho” Camacho

When the opportunity to interview Hector “Macho Man” Camacho presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity. Not only was he arguably the pound per pound best the sport had to offer about the time he won the WBC super featherweight title, his heyday was during one of the richest and most competitive periods our sport has ever known. In fact, the career of Hector Camacho reads in a way that is mostly forgotten today; put it all on the line and meet the best, risk be damned.

More than just a hotshot fighter with God-given attributes and ability, the “Macho Man” moved through several divisions over the span of years, taking on the best and most celebrated talent available despite the laws of probability. Discussing his views on the Edwin Rosario match, the grueling encounter with undefeated Mexican ring icon Julio Cesar Chavez, his victories over the two greats from “The Brawl in Montreal” or his challenge of two great Hispanic welterweights from yet another era, I could not help but marvel at how much ring history this great multi-division former world champion has lived through. Amazingly, with 87 career bouts to date, Camacho is on the cusp of yet another ring campaign when he looks to embark on a world tour later next month at an age where most fighters are looking back as opposed to looking forward. As a fan, it was indeed a pleasure to represent RSR and sit down with the “Macho Man” and go over a career that although not yet over, is already one for is one for the ages.

MP: Beginning in October 1982 and with a record of 17-0, you whipped four talented contenders over a period of six months, three of which had previously been undefeated; Melvin Paul, Greg Coverson, John Montes and “Cubanito” Perez. Did you feel destined for a world title unstoppable by this point?

Oh yeah. At that point I felt ready to fulfill my call to become a three-time world champion and after all, not only three world champions I went on to win ten world championships. I’m probably one of the only legends out there live and kicking, still active. I’m going after my eleventh title on March 26th.

MP: You won the vacant WBC super featherweight title in August 1983 with a fifth-round stoppage over former champion Rafael Limon. You followed that up by pounding Rafael Solis some three months later in your first title defense, also in the fifth-round. How did it feel to be a young world champion and what were your goals back then after winning your first title?

Well, back then I was just unstoppable. Anything I wanted to do I would do it and as the years went on I kept doing everything I ever wanted to, and originally set out to do in boxing. That’s the reason why I’ve decided to make this my last hurrah. Not my last “hurrah”, but last “hurrahs”. I want to put it on as many fighters as I can, just one after another. I want to basically fight outside of the United States. I will take it overseas to Denmark or Russia or places out that way because I’m very big out there and I really have the opportunity to take advantage of fighting out there. I do have it and I’m 47 years-old and I’ll be 48 in May. But you know, health-wise, condition-wise, the way I look, my person, I’m still a young looking “Macho Man” from back in 1990 or even the 80’s. I feel young, I feel good. I’m wiser and grown up. I have all this experience plus my speed, I still have my speed. I’m able to do everything I always did. It’s just a gift from The Lord that I’m able to carry my career this far.

MP: You won the WBC lightweight title in April 1985 with a shutout over Jose Luis Ramirez who came into the bout with a 90-5 record. What do you remember of that bout and of Ramirez as a foe?

I remember back then that I was just ready to explode.  I was insane; I was fast as lightning and I proved it to him in that fight. I proved to him how fast and sharp I could be. I proved I was invincible at that time. I will prove how sharp and fast I am today up in Denmark on March 26th. I’m hearing through the internet and word of mouth that this guy Allan Vester is pretending he is gonna box me and make me quit in the seventh round and all that. He’s just a young kid compared to me; 35 or 36 years-old. He’s got a record of 27-7 and he’s never fought nobody like me and he’s able to talk a little like I did back then, but I can almost guarantee you that I’m gonna blow this guy out. I’m very, very hyped, very excited that I’m gonna fight in Denmark for the first time and have the full attention of the public out there, just waiting for me like I had back in the 80’s and 90’s, how people just waited for my appearance. That’s what they are doing in Denmark. I feel so excited!

MP: Your next bout was a ten-round non-title tune-up win over Freddie Roach, who is generally regarded as arguably the best trainer in the sport of boxing today. What do you remember of that bout and of the 38-9 Roach as a fighter?

Freddie Roach is a very fine trainer, maybe that’s what he was born to do. As a fighter, I beat him very well, very convincingly. I really mashed his face. As a trainer he’s doing very well but that’s ‘cause of the fighters he’s training. Keep in mind that Freddie’s not taking his fighters as new pupils and developing them into great champions. No. He’s not that type of trainer. He has the experience of know-how to get his fighters ready and conditioned for fights, and he does a good job on that, but by no means is he a champion-maker. He’s a former fighter and now a trainer that is out there at the right time doing all of the right things to follow-up with the fighters as they are when they first go to him, to go out there and win.

MP: Next came what many consider to be the pivotal moment of your entire career and a turning point of sorts for you as a professional fighter; the Edwin Rosario fight. You prevailed by split decision in a match some in the media felt that you lost. Tell us what happened in that bout.

Well, I never thought that I lost that fight. It was just two rounds, the fifth and I think it was the tenth where Edwin managed to back me up. Now keep in mind that when I was coming up, I was the type to get in and steal the round. That why I’ve lasted this long. That’s why I’m still here; that’s why I can still speak, I can talk, I can fight, I can punch, I can dance, I can move around, I can do everything that I always did because I wasn’t a fighter that got beat-up. But then again when I went those hard rounds with Eddy Rosario when he backed me up in the fifth and the tenth round, people wanted to believe that I lost the fight, but I didn’t. I thought that I had the fight under control, and so I got backed-up. After I got backed-up, I came back. Then I got backed-up again in the tenth-round, and then I went on to win a very close, twelve-round split decision, but I was the champion and I did earn the fight. I think I did win the fight.

MP: Having watched it live and again recently, I think you won it.

Thank you. I thought so too. But nevertheless, Edwin Rosario fought a great fight. He stayed with me he exchanged punches with me and was able to make me miss at times. He fought a great fight. I love that guy, even now, though he is no longer around. I think he was a very big, big part of my early career.

MP: Later in 1987, you moved up to super lightweight and completely shutout Howard Davis, JR., on national television in a bout where you didn’t at any point move in for the kill, further fueling rumors you had grown complacent with boxing and had adopted a safety-first mentality after being shook-up in the fifth round of the Rosario bout the year before. Tell us about those bouts and why the change in approach?

Howard Davis JR was, you know, a former Olympian, up and coming attractive fighter. He’s was from the old school of 1976 when “Sugar” Ray came around, and those kind of guys. He was destined to win a world championship but never did. I beat him very well, I beat Howard very convincingly. Then again that came after my fight with Rosario, and even though I was the same kind of fighter, they were saying I was no longer the same fighter I had been. Instead, styles make fights and at that time I started slacking in my training, and since I had the legs to dance and box and win the fight boxing without getting hit, I chose to do that. I really stopped being dedicated as a fighter in the gym, but my legs kept me around and kept me winning good.

MP: The split decision victory over the far less talented Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, somebody that had been under your skin for years. Recall that moment for us.

You know, it’s funny. I just got with Mancini about six months ago at the Hall of Fame, and I was so happy to see him. I hugged him and told him Mancini, I love the shit out of you. You are my brother and any time you need something, anything, you give me a call, I will be there. It’s just funny how years go by and I have this admiration and this respect for Ray Mancini. He looks well. He looks older ‘cause he has white hair and all that, but he was very well and I was happy to see him. As far as our fight went, Mancini got himself into shape. He really wanted to beat me and he fought a damn good fight. I fought and boxed him the way I prepared myself to, but Mancini was truly a great little champion and a great little fighter.

MP: You split two bouts with former IBF Lightweight Champion Greg Haugen in 1991, your initial encounter with him, the first official loss of your career. What happened in those bouts?

I really thought I won the first fight. I’m very game, being the first born as I was and being the “Macho Man”, I was kind of dominating everybody I fought. Back then I was under Bob Arum’s promotion, and I thought Arum had something to do with Haugen.  I really thought I won that fight but they gave it to Haugen after they took a point from me. Even with the point loss I really thought I won the fight. But in boxing, you know, you see it all. You win and you lose. I was just honored to be a part of history. I’m honored to be a part of things that happened in boxing. I came back to beat him in the second fight just like I did in the first fight, but shit happens, you know. Things happen in boxing like that. Maybe if I was white and was The Golden Boy, it may not have ever happened. Then again, I was the bad boy of boxing, the “Macho Man”, and it was allowed to happen and it did. That’s the way it goes.

MP: In 1992 you challenged an 81-0 Julio Cesar Chavez for the WBC Light Welterweight Title. You lost a wide unanimous decision, taking a pounding in the process. It appears as though you could not get into your usual rhythm in that bout. What happened and what was it like facing Chavez, whom many considered an absolute phenomenon by that point?

That’s when I really played myself cheap. I slacked in my determination to come out in the best condition that I could have. Yes, I got myself into great shape, OK, but not into the right kind of condition that I should have. You know, when I fought Chavez, I thought if I boxed him I’d beat him easy. I didn’t get myself into the right condition but I got myself into the right shape to fight the way I did. I thought that if I boxed him and moved, I could’ve made him look silly and beat him that way, but he prepared himself for my style of fighting. Not having the right conditioning, I wasn’t able to really fight him the way I did the last four rounds. When I was boxing him, he was on me, he was all over me. When I fought him later in the bout, I really started taking over the fight, but he was way up in points for me to come back that late, and he won a good decision on me. It’s cool. Remember how Ali beat George Foreman? Foreman came back after ten years and he did everything he did the first time around, plus more and retired great, with money and his senses? He’s such a great man, George Foreman and I want to follow his example that it can be done. Well, Chavez beat me. Now Chavez ain’t around but I’m still around for my last hurrah. I’m sure I’ll be very successful.

MP: You moved up to welterweight in 1994, challenging undefeated Felix Trinidad for the IBF title, ultimately losing a unanimous decision. What do you recall of Trinidad as a champion?

At that time Trinidad was a great, promising little fighter. I wasn’t fighting as regularly as before in my career, but I thought if I got this young guy, coming up, I would be able to put myself back in the picture. I fought. He beat me. Good. He then went on to beat Oscar De La Hoya, and he did great. I tried to fulfill this desire inside to win, something that I was put on this earth to do. But little setbacks in the ring, outside of the ring, shit happens.

MP: You embarked on a seniors tour of sorts by beating Roberto Duran in 1996, then later again in 2001, the first bout being somewhat controversial with some in the media claiming he deserved the decision. What is your reaction to those claims?

I took those fights to show that I was still around. Yeah, I beat Duran when he was pretty much over it. He was still Duran; you win and you lose as you get older but maybe I didn’t fight Duran when he was 23 or 21, but I still beat Duran. I beat Roberto Duran. He came at me and I fought him and I beat him, twice.

MP: In early-1997 you out-boxed and beat-up “Sugar” Ray Leonard, somebody you had an ongoing rivalry with for some time. What is the story behind that rivalry and what do you recall of your bout with the former multi-division champion?

I fought a great fight. I got ready for that fight I said at the time, Ray I’m getting ready for this. To beat “Sugar” Ray I had to be the best that I could be at that time to beat him. He was trying to out-talk me, out-class me. He thought by being that great living legend that he was, that he could just overshadow me and beat me with his past and his jazz, but I got really focused and told him I was going to knock him out, and I did. I even told him what round I was gonna knock him out in, and I did. Am I Houdini? No. Am I Muhammad Ali? No, I’m just the” Macho Man” and I beat him very good.

MP: The Leonard win re-invigorated your career. In late-1997 you challenged undefeated Oscar De La Hoya for the WBC Welterweight Title. After absorbing a solid left hook from the champ late in round one, you seemed to switch gears and fight mainly to survive. What happened?

If I would have fought De La Hoya at the same weight that I beat “Sugar” Ray Leonard at, 154 pounds, it would have been in my favor. The last time I made ’47 I lost to Trinidad and barely made that weight. I made ’47 for Oscar because the money and opportunity was right, so that’s why I fought at ’47 but I had no firepower. The advantages that Oscar De La Hoya had over me that night, I still proved defensively, offensively, that I could go twelve hard rounds with anybody in the world win or lose.

MP: Next month you are facing Allan Vester in Denmark for the WPBF Middleweight Title. Will we possibly see Hector “Macho” Camacho one day again challenging for a major world title?

I will beat Allan Vester. The whole thing is knocking him out. That’s what will be the challenge, knocking him out. Beat him? Yes, I can beat him. After I beat him, I’m taking with K-1 about doing an Asian tour, about doing three fights over there. There’s some good money out there on the table. We’re still negotiating but I think the way the economy is here in the United States, I can make more money fighting overseas. I want to do two or three fights overseas and when I prove to be the real thing, the way George Foreman did, then I’ll return to the States and fight anybody from Manny Pacquiao to Bernard Hopkins. Anyone from Miguel Cotto to Pacquiao to Hopkins, hopefully in about a year. I’ll do Japan, Europe, I’ll fight the most fights that I can get. Nobody can tell me that I can’t do what I’ve done all my life. I’ve won ten world championships and I’m going after my eleventh world championship in my next fight.

At this point in my life, you know, I have no setbacks. I’m doing everything I have to do. I’m boxing because there’s gonna be a time that I ain’t gonna be able to do this anymore. I’m 47 years-old. So  I want to be able to do everything now, so after I retire, I can say I did everything and the whole world is gonna know I did everything because I’m giving it my best. I’m gonna do it!

MP: In closing is there anything that you would like to say to your many fans around the world?

Don’t blink an eye, the man is back. It’s Macho time!

Hector Camacho
Nickname: “Macho”
Division: Light Middleweight
Professional Record: 79-5-3, 38 KO’s




Date       Opponent                  W-L-D     Location                  Result     
1980-09-12 David Brown               0-1-1     New York, USA             W PTS  4
1980-12-12 Benny Llanos              0-1-0     New York, USA             W KO 1

1981-03-12 Herman Ingram             1-9-1     New York, USA             W UD   6
1981-03-27 Robert Johnson            1-9-1     New York, USA             W KO   1
1981-04-24 Jerry Strickland          9-52-0    New York, USA             W KO   2
1981-05-02 Tomas Enrique Diaz        1-4-0     New York, USA             W UD   6
1981-05-16 Kato Ali                  0-6-0     Kiamesha Lake, USA        W TKO  7
1981-06-25 Marcial Santiago          4-10-0    New York, USA             W UD   8
1981-07-24 Jose Figueroa             3-6-2     New York, USA             W KO   1
1981-09-16 Robert Mullins            24-2-0    New York, USA             W KO   6
1981-11-05 Anthony Murray            4-1-0     New York, USA             W UD  10
1981-12-11 Blaine Dickson            15-3-0    New York, USA             W UD  12
        NABF Super Featherweight Title

1982-02-15 Jorge Nina                1-12-1    Queens, USA               W UD   8
1982-03-31 Rafael Lopez              16-1-0    New York, USA             W TKO  3
1982-05-21 Refugio Rojas             19-9-0    New York, USA             W TKO  1
        NABF Super Featherweight Title
1982-07-11 Louis Loy                 15-0-1    New York, USA             W TKO  7
1982-08-28 Johnny Sato               18-6-0    Atlantic City, USA        W TKO  4
1982-10-30 Melvin Paul               15-0-0    Atlantic City, USA        W UD  10
1982-11-20 Greg Coverson             32-0-0    Las Vegas, USA            W UD 10

1983-02-12 John Montes               22-1-0    Anchorage, USA            W KO   1
1983-04-03 Irleis Perez              26-0-0    Phoenix, USA              W UD  10
1983-08-07 Rafael Limon              50-12-2   San Juan, Puerto Rico     W TKO  5
        vacant WBC Super Featherweight Title
1983-11-18 Rafael Solis              29-3-2    San Juan, Puerto Rico     W KO   5
        WBC Super Featherweight Title

1984-05-20 Rafael Williams           19-1-0    Corpus Christi, USA       W TKO  7
1985-01-19 Louis Burke               19-1-0    Atlantic City, USA        W TKO  5

1985-04-29 Roque Montoya             14-6-2    Buffalo, USA              W UD  12
        NABF Lightweight Title
1985-08-10 Jose Luis Ramirez         90-5-0    Las Vegas, USA            W UD  12
        WBC Lightweight Title
1985-12-18 Freddie Roach             38-9-0    Sacramento, USA           W UD 10

1986-06-13 Edwin Rosario             28-1-0    New York, USA             W SD  12
        WBC Lightweight Title
1986-09-26 Cornelius Boza Edwards    44-5-1    Miami Beach, USA          W UD  12
        WBC Lightweight Title

1987-05-02 Howard Davis Jr           29-3-1    Atlantic City, USA        W UD 10

1988-06-25 Reyes Antonio Cruz        37-2-1    Atlantic City, USA        W UD  10
1988-10-22 Rick Souce                14-1-0    Bayamon, Puerto Rico      W TKO  4

1989-03-06 Ray Mancini               29-3-0    Reno, USA                 W SD  12
        vacant WBO Light Welterweight Title
1989-07-17 Tommy Hanks               18-3-0    Atlantic City, USA        W UD  10
1989-11-04 Raul Torres               10-3-2    Atlantic City, USA        W UD 10

1990-02-03 Vinny Pazienza            28-3-0    Atlantic City, USA        W UD  12
        WBO Light Welterweight Title
1990-08-11 Tony Baltazar             34-3-1    Stateline, USA            W UD  12
        WBO Light Welterweight Title

1991-02-23 Greg Haugen               27-3-0    Las Vegas, USA            L SD  12
        WBO Light Welterweight Title
1991-05-18 Greg Haugen               28-3-0    Reno, USA                 W SD  12
        WBO Light Welterweight Title
1992-08-01 Eddie VanKirk             25-7-2    Las Vegas, USA            W TKO  4
1992-09-12 Julio Cesar Chavez        81-0-0    Las Vegas, USA            L UD  12
        WBC Light Welterweight Title

1993-05-08 Eric Podolak              19-3-0    Las Vegas, USA            W TKO  5
1993-06-19 Tom Alexander             17-4-0    San Diego, USA            W TKO  7
1993-12-18 Lee Fortune               18-10-1   Puebla, Mexico            W TKO  1

1994-01-29 Felix Trinidad            22-0-0    Las Vegas, USA            L UD  12
        IBF Welterweight Title
1994-05-03 Franco DiOrio             27-3-1    Bay Saint Louis, USA      W UD  10
1994-06-09 Craig Snyder              14-4-0    Rosemont, USA             W UD  10
1994-09-27 Pat Lawlor                20-4-0    Bay Saint Louis, USA      W UD  10
1994-11-15 Rusty Derouen             33-6-0    Erie, USA                 W TKO  4

1995-01-14 Todd Foster               33-3-0    Atlantic City, USA        W TKO  4
        International Boxing Council Welterweight Title
1995-02-28 Luis Maysonet             28-5-0    Mashantucket, USA         W KO   7
1995-03-29 Verdell Smith             24-17-2   Cincinnati, USA           W UD  10
1995-05-20 Homer Gibbins             35-3-0    Atlantic City, USA        W UD  12
        International Boxing Council Welterweight Title
1995-06-27 Juan Arroyo               28-4-1    Fort Lauderdale, USA      W RTD  6
1995-08-06 Gary Kirkland             23-0-0    Mashantucket, USA         W TKO  9
        International Boxing Council Welterweight Title
1995-09-28 Tony Rodriguez            13-1-0    Los Angeles, USA          W UD  10
1995-10-11 Richie Hess               16-3-1    Washington, USA           W TKO  4
1995-11-07 Danny Chavez              25-5-1    Chester, USA              W UD  10
1995-12-09 Lonnie Horn               24-2-0    Moline, USA               W TKO  6

1996-01-16 Sal Lopez                 17-1-1    Fort Lauderdale, USA      D TD   2
        International Boxing Council Welterweight Title
1996-04-11 Wilbur Garst              19-4-1    Corpus Christi, USA       W TKO  7
1996-06-22 Roberto Duran             96-11-0   Atlantic City, USA        W UD  12
        vacant International Boxing Council Middleweight Title
1996-07-11 Craig Houk                55-27-0   New York, USA             W TKO  2
1996-08-20 Arturo Nina               10-20-1   New York, USA             W UD  10
1996-10-01 Heath Todd                31-10-0   Fort Lauderdale, USA      W TKO  6
1997-03-01 Sugar Ray Leonard         36-2-1    Atlantic City, USA        W TKO  5
        International Boxing Council Middleweight Title

1997-09-13 Oscar De La Hoya          25-0-0    Las Vegas, USA            L UD  12
        WBC Welterweight Title
1998-06-12 Tommy Small               35-16-0   Verona, USA               W TKO  6

1998-08-11 Tony Menefee              62-4-0    Miami, USA                W UD  12
        International Boxing Council Light Middleweight Title
1998-10-23 Ken Sigurani              22-2-0    Chester, USA              W SD  10
1999-03-19 Scott Smith               25-6-2    Verona, USA               W UD  10
1999-06-18 Patrick Goossen           19-1-0    Struthers, USA            W UD  10
1999-10-21 Manuel Esparza            19-6-1    Washington, USA           W TKO  5
1999-11-27 Jorge Vaca                63-21-1   Carolina, Puerto Rico     D TD 3

2000-04-08 Bobby Elkins              29-9-0    Detroit, USA              W TKO  5
2000-06-09 Billy Fox                 20-2-2    Verona, USA               W UD  10
2000-06-16 Tim Bryan                 29-22-2   Rama, Canada              W TKO  5

2001-02-03 Troy Lowry                24-1-0    Miami Beach, USA          W UD  10
2001-07-14 Roberto Duran             103-15-0  Denver, USA               W UD 12

2003-01-18 Otilio Villarreal         15-15-1   Fort Lauderdale, USA      W TKO  9
2003-04-18 Chris Walsh               18-6-1    Raleigh, USA              L TD   6
2003-12-05 Craig Houk                67-34-0   Coconut Creek, USA        W TKO  3

2004-07-03 Clint McNeil              15-6-0    Biloxi, USA               W UD  10
2005-07-09 Raul Munoz                17-6-0    Tucson, USA               W UD 10

2008-07-18 Perry Ballard             20-1-0    Houston, USA              W TKO  7
        vacant World Boxing Foundation International Light Middleweight Title

2009-05-09 Luis Ramon Campas         92-14-0   Orlando, USA              D PTS  8

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