Camacho looking to rebuild

Story by Antonio Castro

Hector “Macho” Camacho Jr. (48-3-1, 27 KO’s) is looking to rebuild his reputation starting with his fight on Saturday night in Cleveland at the Wolstein Center and on In Demand Pay Per View as he is taking on the upset minded Israel “Pito” Cardona (36-9, 28 KO’s).

The fight will be for the vacant WBC Caribbean Boxing Federation junior middleweight title. Camacho Jr. not only had the famous last name of his father, but also had some legitimate talent before he began having weight issues following his controversial no decision to jesse James Leija in 2001. Well the name remains the same, and Camacho Jr. claims the talent is still there as well. It’s been a long road back for Jr., who says that he is done partying and wants to use his god given talent and make a name for himself. Fightnews feature writer Antonio Castro caught up with Camacho Jr., and here is what he had to say.

Antonio Castro: Is the junior middleweight division the division where you feel the most comfortable at?

Hector Camacho Jr.: You know what, to be honest with you it’s been about four or five years since I took boxing seriously. In my last two fights my weight has been jumping up to the 160’s and 170’s. I really haven’t been in the best shape. This is the first fight in a while that I’ve been training my ass off and right now I feel good at 154 (pounds). I’m going to go down to 147, but right now 154 is the weight that I’m working at.

A.C.: Why haven’t you been focused and why are you focused now?

H.C.: I can’t call it. Everything came really fast for me. Everything came quick. My fame, my stature. But as fast it came it went down. After the (Jesse James) Leija fight the boxing public and the fans turned their back on me. Before the Leija fight I was the next big thing. After that happened the public turned their back on me, and that took a toll on me. That lasted a couple of years. After fighting big fights, then fighting people with no names, it was hard to get up for those kinds of fights. Now I’ve been watching boxing from a distance and I see all these underachievers get these big fights and these big paydays. Guys like Ricardo Mayorga. So if you’ve got these guys, that don’t have half the talent that I have, then I need to get back on my ball. Also, I cannot leave the boxing game with all the talent that I have, without building my own legacy. That’s why I’m really pumped to get back.

A.C.: How hard was it to stay focused early on in your career?

H.C.: It was real tough. Everything was coming in for me. Boxing, non boxing stuff, shows, magazines, talk shows, sponsorship deals. Everything was just coming quick for me. I was young too. At my age, I had the baddest girls, it was hard to stay focused. Everything came easy for me. I didn’t train half way, and I would win fights easily just by natural talent.

A.C.: How is it being the son of Hector “Macho” Camacho?

H.C.: It has its pros and its cons. The pros were that everybody recognized me so by hearing the name Camacho, they could already relate. The bad thing is that people expect me to fill those shoes. Those types of fighters (Camacho Sr.) don’t come often. Maybe only once every 20 years. My goal when I got into boxing was to have a name for myself. It wasn’t to become champion. My only goal was to be known for me.

A.C.: Moving onto your opponent on Saturday night, Israel Cardona, what do you expect from him?

H.C.: I’ve been seeing Cardona for like 10 years. He’s a tough fighter I would say. Nothing special, nothing superb, but a tough fighter. A tough Puerto Rican fighter that is coming to fight. I’m not basing Cardona on the last couple of fights that he’s had because he fought nobody’s. When he fights somebody like Camacho, that’s a name. That can rejuvenate a career, so I expect the best of Cardona coming into this fight. I expect Cardona to be really motivated, in shape, and looking for the upset.

A.C.: What is your game plan for Cardona?

H.C.: I’ve done it all. I trained my ass off for this fight. I’ve put the pressure on my back knowing that I can’t just win the fight. I have to look superb. That’s what I’m focusing on. Going back to where I started from. Just boxing. I’m doing it for the fun of it now. Not for the money. For the fun and the respect. I’ve been in the gym working on my craft. Sharpening my tools and working with my speed.

A.C.: Who’s your trainer for the fight?

H.C.: I went back to my roots. I picked up my father’s first trainer called Robert Lee. This is a funny story. I was working with my father a year and a half ago. We were in the gym every day. I tried working with my father. You know it’s not easy. Father and son relationships never work. I tried though. I went to Puerto Rico and was with him for three months. When I would wake up in the morning to go running my father would just be getting home. So that just never worked out. So I asked him, I said Pops, what trainer really got you where you needed to be? Who showed you that style? He mentioned Robert Lee. So here I am hanging out and I ended up bumping into Mr. Robert Lee. I hadn’t seen him for about 20 years. We started talking boxing and he told me was retired from boxing and no longer into boxing deal. And I said to him, I would really like you to work with me. He told me he was a sheriff. Long story short, he left his job and that’s the man that I have now. He’s teaching me things from the basics. He told me he’s not here to change nothing about you. I’m here to add on. He got me down from the footwork to the basic steps, and I’ve learned so much in the last year with this guy. Now I can recognize seeing my father in the past, where it all came from.

A.C.: What are your thoughts on fighting in Cleveland?

H.C.: Cleveland has a big Hispanic population. I expect them to come out and support. But there hasn’t been boxing in Cleveland for a long time. Especially big time boxing. It feels great to open up something here. To start something up again. The people are in for a good fight. They’re going to see Camacho Jr. at his best. No headaches this time. No weight issues. There’s no problems. I’m coming in clear headed wanting to win.

A.C.: What are your plans after the Cardona fight?

H.C.: First off, I’m not looking past Cardona. My management team has been talking and there is some big names out there. Zab Judah, maybe John Duddy. There’s talk of those kinds of opponents. But after this fight, I’d like to jump right back in there within eight weeks. I want to keep myself busy. That’s the only way I keep my weight down. I’m not going to take three or four months off, balloon up on weight, and then wait and see what’s next. I’ve had all my partying. I’ve had my fun. After this fight I’ll take a week off, then go right back into the gym and do it again. My life right now is the gym. The next three years, four years possibly.