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Camacho Jr. defeats Campas ... and Texas
'Machito' overcomes aggressive Mexican veteran, aggressive ref and one bad judge

Ringside by Chris Cozzone & Ricardo Trujillo
Photo by Chris Cozzone

It wasn’t the prettiest fight ever seen in El Paso.

But it might be one of the more controversial ones held in recent years.

If you had told Hector “Machito” Camacho Jr. that going ten rounds with 108-fight Mexican veteran Ramon Luis “Yory Boy” Campas also meant going ten rounds with Texas, he might’ve talked promoter Zeferino Ramirez into a safer fight site.

Fighting under the threat of disqualification throughout the fight, Camacho – certainly no angel – was, comparatively, a chubby cherub outgunned by the unholy trio he was matched up against.

Outboxing, wrestling and trading fouls with Campas earned the Son of Macho Man not only the rightful decision, but a bit of vengeance for his old man, who’d drawn with Campas a few months back.

It was not, however, such an easy task to do in the “Don’t Mess With” state. Camacho was not only zapped three points by Referee Lawrence Cole, but he had to endure an oddball scorecard from one of the judges.

The PPV-televised card, billed as “Latin Invasion 2: Revenge of the Son,” was promoted by Zeferino Events and Golden Boy Promotions. Originally, the card had featured seven bouts, but, on the day of the weigh-in, the lineup had been whittled down to five bouts due to a pair of opponents who’d submitted the results of their medical exams late.

Further controversy marred the card at the weigh-in, when four of ten fighters came in overweight. Fight camps cried suspect scale, but Texas’ athletic commission refused to budge.

There was no budging Camacho, either, in losing his pudginess. Tipping the beam at 159.5 – five-and-a-half over the jr. middleweight limit (he actually might’ve been 156.5 on another scale) – Camacho, Jr. was forced to forfeit his WBC Caribbean belt.

The lippy Puerto Rican, soft in comparison to a rock-hard Campas, was booed by the 3,000 or so pro-Mexican spectators at the Don Haskins Center, upon entering the ring. By the end of the fight, however, it was Referee Cole who received the majority of the boos.

Camacho set his plan in motion with the opening bell, jabbing and moving, with Campas trying to counter with right leads and sheer, yet ineffective, aggression. That the fight wasn’t going to be, neither, a slugfest nor pretty display of sweet science, was evident when Camacho spilled Campas onto the mat in a move better reserved for the octagon. Still, in a somewhat closer round, the slicker, faster southpaw edged the determined veteran with a fight on the move, before resorting to a hitting-and-holding routine.

Referee Cole got into the fight in the third, skipping any prior warnings to deduct a point off Camacho for a low blow. Campas, grimaced and groaned – the blow had clearly been low – for two minutes before the fight resumed. The fight resumed its ugly state, Camacho outpointing, but the two grabbing and mauling one another while Cole continually stepped in to yank Camacho’s arms back, sometimes slapping him harder than anything Campas could land.

The fight took a delay in the opening of the fourth, when Ref Cole told Camacho’s camp to lower his groin protector. Campas went to work when the fight continued, upping his pressure and trying to rough up Camacho against the ropes. Fighting off the ropes, Camacho landed cleaner, crisper hooks for yet another round – that is, until Ref Cole took yet another point off Camacho, this time for hitting after the bell.

In the fifth, an accidental headbutt opened a cut near Campas’ left eye. Though the replay showed possible intention, this time Cole backed off, ruling it unintentional. The bout resumed, with sparse action and the cleaner shots made by Camacho.

With the crowd on his side, Campas had his best round in the sixth, meaning there was just less boxing from Camacho and not any more connect shots from the grizzled veteran who shuffled forward like something out of a George Romero movie.

For the next couple rounds there was less referee intervention, more boxing from Camacho and increasingly ineffective aggression from a frustrated Campas. Using the ring, finally, Camacho created space and continued to land his right and straight left. Harder lefts followed in the eighth, two snapping Campas’ head back. Yory Boy, however, had his moments, as well, landing cleaner but doing little damage.

Camacho continued to outbox Campas in the ninth but, in the tenth and final stanza, lost another point to a referee who ignored rounds of rabbit punches and hitting on the break from Campas, to zap Camacho for holding. Despite the deductions, sometimes shaking his head or gesturing to his ringside acquaintances or corner, Camacho threw his best shots in the last round, breaking through his opponent’s guard with big lefts.

At the end of ten, most ringsiders had Camacho winning despite the points off – but the actions of the referee had many doubting Camacho could pull it off.

Judges Rocky Burke and Levi Martinez, both from New Mexico, however, had it right, scoring it 96-91 and 95-92 for Camacho.

Judge Raoul Valencia, alas, who’s been a consistent third man out in his career as a fight judge, scored it 95-92 – but for Campas.

Fightnews/NewMexicoBoxing had it 96-91 for Camacho.

“I thought Campas would have more power, but there was nothing there,” said Camacho, now 50-3-1, 27 KOs. “Campas was a shot fighter tonight. He’s gone now.”

Camacho said he felt sluggish in the opening rounds, from being overweight, but had a hard time staying calm due to the referee.

“My corner kept me calm, but I was razzled by the ref. The ref had a negative influence – man, three points! That was ridiculous.

“But I knew I was winning. I know I won the fight. It’s ‘Junior Time!’”

Campas, usually turning over the reins over to trainer Joe Diaz for vocal outbursts, while remaining calm, told the media that he’d been robbed in El Paso.

“I usually don’t protest when I lose,” said Campas, who falls to 92-15-2, 74 KOs. “But this was no loss. I was robbed here. The people saw that. They recognized that.

“I would gladly welcome a rematch.”

Diaz will file an official protest with the commission.

In the meantime, it looks like Camacho is headed into another showdown with another fighter past his prime: Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas.

No sooner had Camacho Jr. been declared winner and Campas exited the ring did Vargas – less chunky than he’d been in the summer but by no means a jr. middle, let alone a light-heavy – enter the ring to rev up the crowd to announced his comeback and stare down Junior.

“I want Vargas,” said Camacho. “He’s had two years rest and he’s only 32. Let’s bring it to El Paso!”

“Next time,” announced promoter Zeferino. “There won’t be a Lawrence Cole!”

Escalante kayos Fulgencio

In the co-main event, WBA No. 1 super bantamweight Antonio Escalante, pride of El Paso, took out Dominican Carlos Fulgencio with a smashing right hand to the temple in round two.

That Fulgencio was not only game but a smart fighter was evident in round two when he had Escalante running into more than one right hand. After the recoil of his head snapping back, Escalante took a more careful approach coming in at his opponent. Driving Fulgencio into the ropes, he won back the round.

In the second, double left hooks from Escalante drove Fulgencio back to the ropes where a final straight right hand upstairs crumpled the Dominican to the canvas just past the first minute.

Fulgencio tried to beat the count but the temple shot had destroyed his legs. Official time was 1:17.

“I had to be careful because I knew he was wily,” said Escalante, now 22-2, 14 KOs. “I knew I could catch him and it was just a matter of time. The key to my victory was power.

“Now I want a title shot so bad.”

Escalante will probably have to wait until May 2010 to get his shot. In the meantime, El Paso’s best hope for a world champion will be targeting the featherweight division.

Medina pummels Hernandez

In a special eight-round super middleweight co-feature, David “Gatti of the Rockies” Medina (22-2, 10 KOs), of Junction City, Ks., won a lopsided unanimous decision over chunky Miguel “Macho” Hernandez (20-10, 10 KOs), of Chicago, who came in a career heaviest of 174.5 (171.5 if you allow for a shaky scale) in what was his fifth straight loss.

Despite looking like Camacho Jr.’s older brother in physique, Hernandez was game to the core through eight rounds – but he proved no threat to Medina, who kept to plan in outworking his way to a decision.

Medina hit the body in the first but was smothered for much of the second. Big rights starched Hernandez in the third and, in the fourth, a peppering of jabs and rights seasoned the seasoned Chicagoan veteran.

Hernandez had his best round in the fifth, bullying Medina to the ropes, but, in the last two rounds, Medina poured on the punishment.

Scorecards ranged from 80-72 (Martinez) to 79-73 (Burke) to 78-74 (Valencia). Fightnews had it 79-73, Medina.

“My left hooks and right leads took him apart,” said Medina.

“Now I’m calling out Elco Garcia. C’mon man, let’s do it.”

Garcia's camp has accepted the challenge.

Perry too Abel for Valdez

In a six-round welter affair, El Paso scrapper Bobby Joe Valdez (9-7, 4 KOs) was brutally taken apart by Abel Perry (12-3, 4 KOs), of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Intent on not missing even one of Perry’s blows, Valdez bull-rushed his way in, only to take shots to the noggin’ – several of which already staggered the local favorite. It was more of the same in the second.

Valdez had a marginally better round in the third, but, in the fourth, was rocked several times by, both, hooks and straight rights. In the fifth, he was battered back and forth so often that – refusing to go down – the referee stepped in to stop the slaughter at :32.

With his career seriously in question, 0-4-1 in rocky comeback attempts, Valdez is now unwon since 2005.

Valenzuela sweeps decision over Garcia

In the walkout bout of the evening – four rounds between Juarez super bantams - Cesar Valenzuela (3-0) proved too much for debuting Cruz Garcia (0-1).

Though game, Garcia tried to, first, weather the initial rounds, than launch his own offensive, but Valenzuela, coming on too strong, had the fight in his pocket through all four rounds.

Scorecards read 40-36 across the board.


Two additional bouts were scratched from the line-up at Thursday’s weigh-in: An eight-round supermiddleweight bout between Randy Griffin (22-2, 12 KOs), of Louisville, Ky., and Marcos Primero (20-20, 13 KOs), of Asheboro, N.C.; and a four-round superbantam bout, between Las Cruces’ Sammy DiPace (6-0, 3 KOs), and LeShaun Blair (4-19), of Knoxville, Tenn.

Texas’ athletic commission forced the cancellations when Primero and Blair submitted the results of their medical tests late. Blair had been 20 minutes late.


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