Camacho Jr. bent on carving own legacy

Story by David Hudson
Photo by Emily Harney

Hector Camacho Jr. relishes the opportunity to fight former junior middleweight world champion Yory Boy Campos on October 30th in El Paso, Texas. Not only does the fight present a battle between a Puerto Rican (Camacho) against a proud Mexican warrior (Campos), but also it pits Camacho the speedier boxer against Campos the more powerful puncher. To make matters even juicier for fight fans, Campos’ last fight – earlier this year – was against Camacho’s famous father – Hector Camacho Sr. In May 2009, Campos and the elder Camacho battled to an eight-round draw.

But, for Camacho Jr. the bout possesses even greater importance. He views this bout as an opportunity at redemption, a chance to climb back up the ladder into the rarified area which he occupied as a former #1 contender. He also views the bout as a key step in establishing his own legacy to ensure that Hector Camacho Jr. will be known as more than the son of a charismatic former world champion.

“When I first came into boxing one of my original goals was to become a world champion,” he says. “That is still my goal. I don’t want to be known as just ‘Camacho’s son.’ I want to build my own legacy.”

He asks emphatically: “You ever hear of my uncle Felix Camacho?” When there is a pause, he continues: “Exactly. Felix “Showtime” Camacho never won a major world title and many people don’t remember him other than as my father’s brother. I don’t want to end up the same way.”

Camacho Jr. frankly says that being the son of a famous boxer is both a benefit and a burden.

“It is a benefit in terms of name recognition and opening some doors,” he says, “but it is a burden in terms of the pressure. It can be a lot of pressure and you have some big shoes to fill.”

Many people remember the early, promising career of Camacho Jr., who blazed his way to more than 30 consecutive wins. Along the way, he showcased his abilities frequently on television as a can’t–miss prospect and future world champion. In 2000, he dispatched veteran Harold Warren – a former top contender and world title challenger – in the first round. He also easily defeated former lightweight champion Philip Holiday.

However, Camacho’s career took a sharp turn following his infamous bout with another former world champion Jesse James Leija in July 2001 in Brooklyn, New York. During the close bout, a cut opened up over Camacho’s eye. It appeared to some that Camacho quit in the fight and wanted the bout to go the scorecards rather than continue against Leija. Camacho initially earned the decision but the result was changed to a no-contest. The bout has followed him around like a scarlet letter.

“People will remember me for that bout no matter what,” he says. “It’s like with Duran, people remember that ‘no mas’ fight with Leonard in the rematch. People and the critics really tried to nail me with that. It will always stay with me to a certain extent but I have to move forward and show resilience. I am focused on the present and the future, not the past. The whole experience made me stronger.”

After the Leija controversy, Camacho finally lost his first professional fight in his 34th professional bout to tough Argentinean Omar Weis. Camacho entered the ring out of shape and paid the price with a 10-round decision loss. Though Weis later battled Zab Judah tough and beat the cagey Emmanuel Augustus, people labeled Camacho Jr. as an underachiever for the Leija and Weis fights and he never was able to scale back near the top of the mountain.

Camacho Jr. fought far less frequently since those fights for a period of years and dropped two more fights in 2006 and 2007 to Andrey Tsurkan and Don Juan Futrell respectively. However, Camacho has returned after those setbacks with seven straight wins.

He now hopes to win his eighth straight with the highest profile name of his latest foes – Campos. Camacho knows that his older foe still possesses power and presents a challenge. “Campos presents a tough fight,” he says. “People can say he is past his prime or whatever but a guy like Campos has lived a clean life and has fought the best. That is what I want to do now, I want to fight the best. Only the very best guys have beaten Campos – guys like Trinidad, De La Hoya and Vargas. I want to put my name on that list.”

While praising his foe, Camacho also disapproves of some of the things Campos said following the draw with his father earlier this year. “He said my father should retire and I found that disrespectful,” he says. “I mean you say he should retire but then you only fought to a draw. Maybe you should retire too.”

Camacho also predicts a win, emphasizing that he is the speedier fighter. “I see myself stopping him. I mean speed is power. I’ve trained too hard for this fight.”

In fact, Camacho candidly admits that in the past he did not train as well as he should. But, this times he promises is different. “This is the best shape I’ve been in for quite some time. I have given myself the best opportunity now and I really want this and need this fight.”

Camacho says that he needs more than a win over Campos to accomplish his goals of fighting for and winning a world title. Camacho possesses a record of 49-3-1 but has never received a world title shot, a fact of which he is acutely aware. “I’ve had more than 50 professional fights and have 49 wins and no title shot. I deserve at least a shot.”

While focused on the still-dangerous Campos, Camacho says that in this latest phase of his career he wants to fight “only the best.” I want to face the very best in the world. “I’d love to test my skills against the best fighter in the world – Floyd Mayweather Jr. I’d even like to face Fernando Vargas if he comes back. I want big names and big fights.”

Camacho knows that for him and his boxing career, the time is now and he can afford no let-downs. He must perform and he must win. “You reap what you sow,” he says. “I have been training like a hard-ass, working really hard. I am ready to show the world that I’m back and that I’m a force to be reckoned with. I still have my dreams to achieve.”

Tune in on pay-per-view on October 30th to see if Hector Camacho Jr. can move one step closer to achieving his goals and dreams in the sport of boxing.

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Hector "Machito" Camacho (49-3-1, 27 KOs) defends his WBC Caribbean Boxing Federation light middleweight title against the hard-hitting veteran Luis Ramon "Yuri Boy" Campas (92-14-1, 74 KOs) in the main event of the "LATIN INVASION 2: REVENGE OF THE SON!" pay-per-event LIVE from the UTEP Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. In the co-main event, WBA #1 super bantamweight contender Antonio Escalante (21-2, 13 KOs) battles Carlos Fulgencio (11-3-1, 7 KOs). "LATIN INVASION 2" is presented by Zeferino Entertainment in association with Golden Boy Promotions and is available LIVE on pay-per-view on iN DEMAND, DIRECTV and DISH Network, TVN Entertainment and Viewer's Choice Canada beginning at 6pm PST/9pm EST at the affordable price of $24.95! Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster (including online) or can be purchased at the Don Haskins Center box office (915-747-5234).

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— David L. Hudson Jr. is a feature writer for Fightnews, a licensed boxing judge, co-author of the popular book Boxing’s Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Champs, Chumps and Punch-Drunk Palookas and author of the authoritative Combat Sports: An Encyclopedia of Wrestling, Fighting and Mixed Martial Arts.