Macho Man and Son

Different Paths for the Fighting Camachos

"It all ended with Rosario," says HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant, referring to Camacho's 1986 fight with Edwin Rosario. In that bout, Camacho took his first real beating (though he still won, in a controversial decision). "Rosario was a quick-handed sharpshooter, and when Camacho got hit, he found out he didn't like it. At that point, he decided to work on his personality instead of his prizefighting."

Camacho's ring costumes became more and more outrageous, and his rap sheet with the police became almost as startling. Still, boxing was Camacho's personal ATM machine. Whenever he needed money to pay the lawyers or for child support, he could always count on getting a big fight.

"Because of his image, Camacho became a big-name opponent later in his career," Giles says. "His career really is incomplete, from how good he was when he started. I just hope he doesn't get hurt." He took fights with Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, and Julio Cesar Chavez, and even though he was soundly beaten by all three, none of them could knock him out. In 80 professional fights Camacho Sr. is 74-4-2. He has been down only twice in his career.

A lot of pop: Camacho Jr. and Sr.
photo: Matthew Staver
A lot of pop: Camacho Jr. and Sr.

Hector Camacho and his son are training together in Denver, Colorado, for their upcoming fights. Camacho has been helping his son prepare for Leija, his toughest opponent to date. "I asked him to be around," Junior says. "He shows me things inside the ring and tells me how to carry myself, what to expect in my career, to keep my eyes open for the leaches."

Junior has gone farther than most sons of former champions have. And unlike the fighters coming out of the Olympics, he and his promoters are taking their time. Having seen a lot of young fighters rise quickly only to flame out, they are in no hurry.

As for Camacho Sr., nobody can doubt his durability and longevity in the sport. But he sometimes looked like he was fighting just so he could make one of his vaudevillian ring entrances. Nonetheless, in his July 14 fight with Duran, Camacho will be going for his seventh title, and there aren't many fighters who can say they've ever done that.

"I guess deep down inside, how could you not be an elite athlete and not care about where you stand [in history] on some level," says Merchant. "I think Camacho feels it could have been a little better for him. People won't talk about him the same way they would Pernell Whitaker or Shane Mosley, but he laughed all the way to the bank."

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