HECTOR “MACHITO” CAMACHO JR.
Former USBO Welterweight Champion, Former NABA Light Welterweight Champion, Former #1 ranked Light Welterweight Contender
Born: September 20, 1978, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Record: 49-3-1, 27 KO’s
For junior middleweight contender Hector “Machito” Camacho Jr. October 30th may prove to be the most important fight of his career. After all, it will pit him against an opponent who could not only propel him back into the top ten, but also give him the opportunity to avenge a draw that has all but ended his father’s career as a force in the middleweight division. Back in May of this year, the elder Hector Camacho crossed paths with Mexico’s Luis Ramon “Yuri Boy” Campas in a fight that promised to rejuvenate the career of the winner. Camacho Sr. knew that anything short of a win would probably mean the end of the line for his hall of fame career. And after eight rounds a disappointed Camacho saw his career take a bone crushing blow when the former world champion Campas held him to a draw. But the bad blood leading up to that fight still lingered, and resonated with the younger Camacho.
“I wanted this fight,” Camacho Jr. told his promoter, Zeferino Ramirez, “I didn’t like a lot of what was said and done when he fought my father.”
So for a sport that has seen everything at some point or another, El Paso Texas will be hosting a first: a son avenging his father’s setback in the ring. It’s an interesting concept, but this is hardly a “gimmick” fight. Campas is a former two time world champion with over 90 wins on his resume, and a fan favorite with the predominantly Mexican and Mexican American fans of El Paso. And his is still a dangerous opponent for any contender to face. In fact, some observers, including former world champion Fernando Vargas, are favoring the Mexican to upset Camacho.
Hector turned pro in October of 1996 with a four-round decision over Lou Martinez (5-3, 0 KO’s) and followed it up with another decision in his second fight over fellow Puerto Rican Jose Trinidad in March of 1997. At that point in his career few people thought that he could possibly match the career feats of his father, the future hall of famer Hector Camacho.
Although he kept winning over the next two years, 1998 proved to be a breakout year for the young Puerto Rican. After amassing an impressive 17-0 record Camacho took on his first major test as he faced fellow prospect Freddie Curiel in his first ten rounder. Critics assumed that, baring an early knockout (Curiel was a fighter with a somewhat shaky chin and tended to start slowly) Camacho would be in for a tough fight. But Camacho cruised to an impressive ten round decision that suddenly had boxing fans wonder if he might just be the best junior welterweight prospect in the sport.
Camacho wasted no time in answering those questions. He won his next three fights before taking on Mexican Miguel Angel Ruiz in a 12-round fight for the NABA light welterweight title. It looked on paper to be a tough test for the young prospect. Ruiz was a solid regional contender who needed to bounce back from an ugly technical decision loss in his previous fight. With the exception of a disastrous 1995 (in which he went 1-3-1), Ruiz carried a fairly solid resume that saw him score victories over a handful of second tier prospects and solid journeymen. Camacho proved, however, that he was a fighter at another level, dominating Ruiz and stopping him in nine rounds.
Camacho scored another four straight wins before he took on his first highly recognizable name in Harold Warren in February of 2000. Warren was just the kind of opponent you call on to test your young prospect and see if he is world champion material. Warren was a cagy veteran who fought for two world titles, losing them by decision. He also held the NABF title in his illustrious career and had a reputation for durability. He extended Genaro Hernandez the distance, as well as Tracy Harris Patterson (both world champions). He also took Derrick Gainer the distance twice in losing efforts. It seemed a safe bet that Warren would test Camacho; after all he had been in there with the best. But in just under three minutes Camacho had his hand raised, the winner by first round KO.
Camacho was now the talk of the sport. A popular undefeated prospect with a world ranking with bone crushing power that seemed to be finally emerging. He followed the Warren knockout with another impressive win, a fourth round KO over fellow prospect Manard Reed (who came in with an impressive 20-1 record) before he took on former IBF lightweight champion Phillip Holiday in July of 2000. Holiday was coming into that fight with an impressive 36-3-1 record and had wins over such legends as Jeff Fenech and Ivan Robinson on his resume. In fact, had it not been for the fact that he had to defend his title against Shane Mosley (who defeated him by way of decision) many wondered if he would still have been world champion in 2000. But against Camacho he was outpunched, outhustled, and after six rounds Holiday found himself on the losing end of a technical decision that featured almost nothing but dominance from Camacho.
It seemed not a question of if but when. With a 29-0 record Camacho was not only the best junior welterweight prospect in the world, he was arguably the best prospect…period. Three more wins followed before Camacho hit his first road bump in the form of Jesse James Leija in an HBO televised fight in 2001. It initially was ruled a win for Camacho, then later ruled a no contest. But no boxing fan who watched the fight felt that Camacho was the winner that night. Against the cagy veteran Camacho struggled and seemed to have his heart taken from him. Accusations or surrendering in that fight still haunt him today.
Although he still was the #1 ranked junior welterweight contender, the Leija fight started a slump for Camacho that would go on to last several years. In March 2002 he took on a tune up fight in the welterweight division against tough Argentinean contender Omar Weis. Camacho’s lack of conditioning showed as Weis outworked him in scoring a ten round decision. Still, Camacho seemed to bounce back nicely, winning the USBO welterweight title in his next fight against Arturo Urena by decision. He followed that win with another impressive first round knockout over veteran Fred Ladd and a decision victory over Bryon Mackie. But 2004 saw another setback when Camacho was held to a draw by Marteze Logan.
It was at this point that Hector Camacho Jr. took on the toughest two opponents of his career: inactivity and poor conditioning. Camacho sat on the sidelines for nearly a year before coming back in 2005 to score a trio of unimpressive wins in which he fought at weights as high as 164 pounds. A TKO loss to Andrey Tsurkan in a NABF light middleweight title fight followed in 2006, and in 2007 Camacho lost a split decision to welterweight contender Don Juan Futrell in a fight that saw him top the scales at 161 pounds. The weight continued to be an issue throughout 2008, with Camacho topping 173 in February of 2008 in a fight against Luis Lopez. It was clear that Camacho’s conditioning was holding him back, and many wondered if he would be able to overcome this opponent.
The critics may have been unwarranted about a great deal about Camacho, but the criticism on his conditioning was spot on. Everyone in boxing knew it, and so did Camacho. So in late 2008 Camacho rededicated himself to the sport, and in January of 2009 he stepped in the ring at a fit 157 pounds. He shined against journeyman Sammy Sparkman and scored a lopsided decision. Now comes the most important fight of Camacho’s career as he takes on Luis Campas in hostile territory on October 30th.