Thursday, November 22, 2012
What time is it? It's Macho time!
"What time is it? It's Macho time." Yes it was; for nearly three decades and 88 fights, it was "Macho time." Truth is, wherever Hector Camacho was, whether in or out of the ring, whenever he would exclaim and ask what time is it, you knew it was 'Macho time'.
That is because Camacho, a former three division world champion was not only flamboyant, boisterous and entertaining, he was also great. Unfortunately, that last adjective is lost amongst all the showmanship that came with the 'Macho' persona; but don't get it twisted, Camacho was an extremely talented boxer who in his prime was as fast and as slick as today's pound for pound best Floyd Mayweather.
Yes, believe it or not, in the '80's during his run as a super featherweight and lightweight world champion, he was that good. Now for those that will start to scream I'm crazy, listen for a second to what I'm telling you. Beyond all the bravado and loud mouth self promoting, this was a beautiful boxer with the utmost talent who won 79 of his 88 fights while only losing six; four of which were to former world champions and future Hall of Famers, Greg Haugen, Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya.
Luckily for me, Camacho was only six months older than I am, so I got to see his career unfold right before my eyes. Ironically, for a brief period while I still lived in New York in the early to mid '70's we actually crossed paths and knew each other during a very short stint in the Boy Scouts. Just a few years later in the late '70's after I had moved to Bethlehem, PA, he would go on to make a name for himself while in his teens, by winning the prestigious New York Golden Gloves title three years in a row.
I remember it like it was yesterday when in his 18th pro fight, he was featured on Wide World of Sports against an equally undefeated Melvin Paul who was 16-0 at the time. Camacho would win a unanimous decision and three weeks later he was back on TV from Las Vegas against a 32-0 Greg Coverson out of the famed Kronk Gym. 'Macho' with his blazing speed would knock down Coverson three times during another unanimous ten round decision. Two fights later after a loss to Howard Davis, Coverson's career would be over.
A young 20 year old at the time with his boyish good looks, super fast hands and a slick boxing style a star was born at a time when fighters on the come up were featured frequently on network television. It would only be three fights later when in the summer of '83 he would win his first title at super featherweight (130 lbs.) against Rafael 'Bazooka' Limon. Two years later he would add the lightweight (135) championship and three years after that a third title at light welterweight (140) against Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini.
It would be 38 fights and nine years before he would suffer his first defeat, a split decision loss to Haugen. In the '90's he would win two more fringe world titles at welterweight (147) and middleweight (160) while also engaging in super fights against the aforementioned above along with a TKO win against Sugar Ray Leonard in Leonard's final fight. He would go on to fight sporadically in the new millennium all the while maintaining his grand 'Macho Man' image.
The larger than life Camacho and his image were suddenly and tragically shot down, literally, while sitting in a car in his native Bayamon, Puerto Rico this past Tuesday. Today he was declared clinically brain dead, all but ending his life. So on this Thanksgiving holiday, while I'm somber at the loss of this great champion, I am thankful that I got the chance to witness his greatness in the ring from the start, during and beyond his career. What time is it? It's Macho time!
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