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Hector Camacho’s Life Ended As He Lived It

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Hector Camacho’s life ended as he lived it: in a fight with a man and with his demons. He always did better against the former than the latter.

Camacho was a survivor, both inside the ring and out, but the fight ends for all of us eventually and his ended violently last Tuesday when he was shot in the face while sitting in the car of a friend who really wasn’t one. That man, Adrian Mojica Moreno, was shot dead in a fusillade of gunfire, nine bags of cocaine in his pocket and an opened 10th one inside the car where the 50-year-old Camacho sat.

Camacho was a fighter to the end, the bullet being deflected by a jaw that never let him down through 88 professional fights. But that tumbling bullet severed his spinal column and he was declared brain dead after suffering a heart attack one night later while still hospitalized a Centro Medico Trauma Center in San Juan. It was several more days before his grief stricken mother made the decision to have withdrawn the plug that was giving him life, something she refused to do until his entire family was around him.

Camacho had brought them all great joy and savage pain, the latter coming from the often uncontrolled life he lived outside the ring. His demons – drugs, alcohol, shady characters, mistrust and bad choices – had been a part of Camacho’s life since he was a kid growing up in a hard part of Spanish Harlem. He was jailed while still a teenager for stealing cars and street fighting and dabbled with drugs and alcohol for nearly all of his professional life but fighting would become his way out of a dead-end life that still ended up that way despite winning three world titles and becoming a larger-than-life personality in the hardest sport there is.

“Macho’’ Camacho was everything that name implied. His gifts of speed, elusiveness, mental dexterity when working within boxing’s unique geometry and a stinging right jab made him a three-time New York Golden Gloves champion when that still carried a lot of weight and would eventually help him win the WBC super featherweight, WBC lightweight and WBO junior welterweight titles and one of the sport’s biggest and most noticed names during the 1980s and 1990s.

He had star quality, a kind heart and a well-hidden but true sense of humility, all often overshadowed by the “Macho Man’s’’ outward armor of bravado and at times cruelty that never reflected fairly who he could be when he was just Hector.

Hector, the guy who befriended so many and who had nothing but time for his fans and anyone who loved his sport, might never have risen to the heights “Macho’’ Camacho did however. That is one of the painful sides of boxing.

More often than not its great champions are dogged by internal conflicts, issues that often go back to tortured childhoods and real fears. Camacho, like all great champions (and for a time he surely was one), carried them with him to his grave. He fought them the best he could, winning sometimes and losing others, but mostly he ran from them, hoping somehow he could outmaneuver life the way he had so many fighters.

But when he was wearing leather gloves and outrageous outfits – one time a loincloth, another time a gladiator’s helmet and battle gear – he was a beautiful thing to watch. Being a southpaw that is saying something because few left-handed fighters rise above the term “stinking southpaw’’ that accompanies so many of them into boxing.

Camacho (79-6-3, 45 KO) was anything but that. He was a crowd pleaser, a fighter who understood he was in show business, not just the hurt business. While he would grow more cautious inside the ring after a savage victory over Edwin Rosario at Madison Square Garden in 1986 that no one who witnessed it would forget, Camacho was at one time a whirlwind of aggression.

That night he dominated the first few rounds and then was hurt badly for the first time in his career, rocked by the relentless Rosario’s right hand in the fifth round in a way Camacho never thought possible. His reaction was a champion’s. The Macho Man fought back.

He dominated the next five rounds but Rosario hurt him again in the 11th and nearly had him out in the final round. Ever the survivor, Camacho used his speed, agility and mental acuity to move, hold, grab, run, do whatever necessary to survive.

He was awarded a well-deserved yet controversial split decision, a victory painfully earned. After it was over, as ESPN-New York writer Wally Matthews recalled, Camacho had a typically amusing response to it all.

In those heady days, Camacho and his crowd had begun hollering “What time is it? Macho Time!’’ It was amusing at first but it became so much a staple of being in his presence you tended to pack cotton in your ears when attending one of his press conferences or gym sessions.

But after that brutal confrontation with Rosario that night, Matthews asked Camacho again, “What time is it?’’

Tired and bloodied, his face a swollen mask of what it had been when the night’s work began, his reply was every inch Camacho’s.

“Time to go to bed,’’ he said.

Camacho would go on to defeat faded legends like Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard, who he retired in 1997 with absolute and utter disrespect from the opening bell until the fight was stopped in the fifth round one fight before Camacho would lose nearly every round of a welterweight title fight with boxing’s newest young star, Oscar De La Hoya.

He was never the same after the Rosario fight, having paid so high a price for victory he could never gather back the piece of himself lost that night at the Garden. He became a front runner, someone who could overwhelm less talented opponents but who would grow cautious and movement obsessed when pressed near the edge of that memory of Rosario.

This was never more evident than in 1992, six years after the Rosario fight, when he climbed out of the ring before facing Julio Cesar Chavez to cling to his mother at ringside. It was the kind of hug you imagined normally reserved for men on death row.

Then he went back in and lost nearly every round and the WBC light welterweight title he held at the time to the legendary Mexican. No shame in that. Chavez was 82-0 that night and would lose only six times in 107 fights, nearly all of those defeats coming when he was well past his prime.

Some will argue that Camacho should have been much more than he was in boxing but how can a man out fight himself? It is actually a testament to the size of his skills that he became all that he was as a fighter despite abusing himself so often outside the ring.

He understood the cost of fighting and certainly reaped its rewards but he also suffered its defeats and in the end was still contemplating a return to it, a man lost in his memories.

By then he’d been arrested for theft in Mississippi that briefly landed him in jail, accused of domestic violence several times, divorced and shot a year ago not far from where his life would end. Thoughts of another comeback to boxing after all he’d been through by then was perhaps the cruelest irony of all for a man who once explained away Leonard’s false belief that he would be able in his dotage to find some way to defeat a man like Camacho, who though no longer the king of the jungle was still a lion in it.

“He believes in his history,” Camacho said.

You could say the same for Hector “Macho’’ Camacho. Even in the moments before a hail of bullets not far from his birthplace in Bayamon, a hard part of Puerto Rican real estate on the edge of San Juan, he believed he was still El Gato, the cat, forgetting that even cats have only nine lives.

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Bohachuk KOs Unlucky Number 13 in Hollywood

David A. Avila

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Bohachuk

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.-Super welterweight prospect Serhii “El Flaco” Bohachuk (13-0, 13 KOs) disposed of local urban legend Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis with nary a sweat in less than four rounds on Sunday evening at the Avalon Theater before a sold out crowd.

Bohachuk remained undefeated and continued his knockout streak with Pendarvis (21-5-2, 9 KOs) the victim. Aside from the main event, the 360 Promotions card was stacked with competitive action.

Bohachuk, 23, trained expecting an easy fight especially knowing that Pendarvis lacked firepower. But sometimes firepower is not all that important.

“He only had nine knockouts,” said Bohachuk, who trains with Abel Sanchez and Max Golovkin (Gennady’s twin) in Big Bear, Calif. “It was easy fight.”

The young Ukrainian felt it was easy but Pendarvis still unleashed several Cracker Jack combinations that caught Bohachuk flush. If only Pendarvis had power there might have been a different result.

Bohachuk floored Pendarvis in the first round with a left hook dug into the liver of Pendarvis and down he went. He resumed the fight but was visibly worried.

In the second round Mookie unleashed some of his magic with a sizzling left uppercut left cross combination that stung Bohachuk for a split second. Then he followed that with a sneaky overhand left and a right hook combination that seemed to come out of the dark. But without power behind those blows, Bohachuk remained in control.

Bohachuk regained total control in the third round and floored Pendarvis with a left hook bomb that immediately dropped him to the ground. The round ended seconds later and seemingly allowed Pendarvis to escape, but at seven seconds into the fourth round Pendarvis told the referee he could not continue and the fight was stopped.

“I wanted the fight to go longer,” Bohachuk said.

A super middleweight match saw Ali Akhmedov (13-0, 10 KOs) defeat Sacramento’s Mike Guy (9-4-1) by decision after eight rounds. All three judges scored it for Akhmedov who struggled with Guy’s stop and go style.

Kazakhstan’s Meiirim Nursultanov (11-0, 8 KOs) out-worked Luis Hernandez after eight rounds in a middleweight clash to win by unanimous decision.

Other Bouts

A lightweight clash between Mario Ramos (8-0) and Arnulfo Becerra (7-2) started slowly for two rounds then erupted into a bloody war for the remaining four rounds. Becerra caught Ramos repeatedly with three and four-punch combinations but Ramos always retaliated back. The crowd roared at the action that saw both suffer cuts and bruises to each other’s face that did not discourage more blows. Ramos was deemed the winner by decision.

“He pushed me into a war,” said Ramos of Becerra. “That’s what fans want.”

Other winners on the fight card were Devon Lee (7-0), Adrian Corona (4-0), Christian Robles (3-0), George Navarro (5-0-1) and Timothy Ortiz by knockout in his pro debut.

In attendance were actor Mario Lopez, WBC minimum weight titlist Louisa Hawton, European champion Scott Quigg and others.

“They’ll be appearing on our future shows this year,” said Tom Loeffler of 360 Promotions.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Fast Results from Oxon Hill: The Peterson Brothers Fail to Deliver

Arne K. Lang

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Peterson

The story of boxing’s Peterson brothers, Lamont and Anthony, has been well documented. Growing up in Washington, DC, they were often homeless. Then Barry Hunter came into their life. A carpenter by trade, Hunter coached amateur boxing at a local rec center. He took the brothers in when Lamont, the older by 13 months, was only 10 years old and he’s been with them ever since, a rarity in a sport where some boxers seemingly change trainers more frequently than they change their underwear.

Today the brothers, who turned pro on the same card in 2004, appeared in the featured bouts of a Premier Boxing Champions show at the MGM National Harbor casino resort in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a stone’s throw across the Potomac from their old stomping grounds. And they were well-matched. Both of their fights were near “pick-‘em” affairs with the invaders the slightest of favorites.

Welterweight Lamont Peterson, a former two-division champion coming off a bad loss to Errol Spence Jr, was pitted against Sergey Lipinets, briefly a 140-pound title-holder coming off a loss on points to Mikey Garcia. Peterson was seemingly ahead on the cards through several frames, but one big punch, a straight right hand by Lipinets in round eight, turned the momentum in his favor.

The end came two rounds later when Lipinets hurt Peterson with on overhand right and followed up with an assault that sent the DC man down hard. Peterson arose on spaghetti legs but it was a moot point as his corner tossed in the white flag almost as soon as he hit the canvas. The official time was 2:59 of round 10.

After the fight, in an emotional moment in the ring, Peterson announced his retirement. If he holds tight to this decision, he will leave the sport with a 35-5-1 record. Sergey Lipinets, a kickboxing champion before he took up conventional boxing, improved to 15-1 with his 11th win by stoppage. Overall it was a good action fight with a high volume of punches thrown.

The co-feature, a 10-round junior welterweight contest between Anthony Peterson (37-1-1, 1 ND) and former IBF 130-pound champion Argenis Mendez (25-5-2) ended in a draw. The decision was unpopular with the pro-Peterson crowd but met the approval of the TV commentators and likely most everyone tuning in at home.

Both fought a technical fight. Peterson did most of the leading and seemingly had the fight in hand going into the late rounds where Mendez did his best work. There were no knockdowns or cuts, but Peterson suffered severe swelling over his left eye. The last round was the best with Mendez fighting with more urgency, perhaps out of fear that he would be victimized by a hometown decision.

Anthony Peterson was making his first start since January of last year when he coasted to an easy decision over Eduardo Florez, a decision later changed to a no-contest when Peterson tested positive for a banned substance.

In the swing bout, an entertaining 10-round contest in the 154-pound weight class, Cincinnati’s Jamontay Clark (14-1) overcame a rough patch in the third round to score a unanimous decision over Chicago’s Vernon Brown (10-1-1). The scores were 95-94 and 96-93 twice. At six-foot-two, the rangy Clark had a 7-inch height advantage.

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Pulev Wins Heavyweight Clash and Magdaleno Bests Rico Ramos in Costa Mesa

David A. Avila

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Pulev

COSTA MESA, Calif.-Eastern European heavyweights slugged it out in Orange County with Kubrat Pulev scoring a knockout win over Bogdan Dinu on Saturday evening. The win keeps him in line for a possible showdown with Top Rank’s newly signed Tyson Fury.

After a slow start the Bulgarian heavyweight Pulev (27-1, 14 KOs) scored the knockout win over Romania’s Dinu (18-2, 14 KOs) before a large supportive audience who arrived with Bulgarian flags and hats at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa.

Until the fifth round the action lacked with both heavyweights not eager to fire. But an angry exchange of blows by Dinu saw Pulev emerge with a cut over his left eye. It also opened up the action between the European heavyweights.

Pulev increased the pressure and caught Dinu in the neutral corner where he unloaded right after right on the ducking Romanian fighter who dropped to a knee and was hit behind the head with a blow. The knockdown was ruled down by an illegal punch and a point was deducted from Pulev.

It didn’t matter. The Bulgarian heavyweight proceeded to unleash some more heavy rights and down went Dinu again. The Romanian fighter beat the count and was met with more right hand bombs and down he went for good this time at 2:40 of the eighth round. Referee Raul Caiz ruled it a knockout win for Pulev.

“Sometimes its good and sometimes it’s bad,” said Pulev about his actions in a heavyweight fight. “Sometimes blood makes me very angry.”

Dinu felt that illegal blows led to his downfall. But the winner Pulev was satisfied.

“It doesn’t matter, I was prepared and really good in this moment. I think I was very good boxing today and showed good punching today,” Pulev said.

Former champions

An expected battle between flashy ex-super bantamweight world champions didn’t deliver the goods as Jessie Magdaleno (26-1, 18 KOs) defeated Rico Ramos (30-6, 14 KOs) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a featherweight contest for a vacant WBC regional title.

A tentative Magdaleno was cautious and deliberate against Ramos who seemed to be stuck in slow motion for the first half of the fight. Behind some lefts to the body and snappy combinations Magdaleno mounted up points for six rounds.

Ramos stepped up the action in the seventh round and began stepping into the danger zone while delivering some threatening combos inside. Magdaleno resorted to holding and moving as the action shifted in Ramos’s direction.

But it was never enough as Ramos seemed to lack pep. The last two rounds saw Ramos engage with Magdaleno but neither landed the killing blows. After 10 rounds all three judges saw the fight in favor of Magdaleno 97-93, 98-92, 99-91 who now holds the WBC USNBC featherweight title.

“It was a long layoff and I took a fight against a tough, tough veteran and former world champion,” said Magdaleno, whose last fight was the loss of the WBO super bantamweight title to Isaac Dogboe last May. “Got to go back to the drawing board. I boxed as good as I could, he’s just a tough fighter.”

Other Bouts

Max Dadashev (13-0, 11 KOs) was dropped in the second round by muscular Filipino southpaw Ricky Sismundo (35-13-3, 17 KOs) and had a look of surprise. He turned it up in the third round and caught Sismundo rushing in with a slick counter left-right combination on the button. Sismundo was counted out by referee Tom Taylor at 2:30 of the third round of the super lightweight clash.

Former Olympian Javier Molina (19-2, 8 KOs) had a rough customer in Mexico’s Abdiel Ramirez (24-4-1, 22 KOs) who never allowed him space to maneuver in their super lightweight match. After eight close turbulent rounds Molina was given the decision by scores 78-74 twice and 79-73.

South Africa’s Chris Van Heerden (27-2-1, 12 KOs) thoroughly out-boxed Mexico’s Mahonry Montes (35-9-1, 24 KOs) until a clash of heads erupted a cut over his right eye. The fight was stopped in the sixth round and Van Heerden was given a technical decision by scores 60-54 on all three cards.

Welterweights Bobirzhan Mominov (10-0, 8 KOs) and Jonathan Steele (9-3-1, 6 KOs) slugged it out for six back and forth rounds at high intensity. There were no knockdowns but plenty of high level stuff going on. The bigger Mominov had the advantage and tried to take out Mitchell, but the smaller welter from Texas was just too tough and skilled to be overrun. Judges scored it 59-54 three times. Good stuff.

Detroit’s Erick De Leon (19-0-1, 11 KOs) survived a knockdown in the fifth and rallied to win by technical knockout over Mexico’s Jose Luis Gallegos (16-6, 12 KOs) in the seventh round of a lightweight clash. A barrage of unanswered blows by De Leon forced referee Ray Corona to halt the fight at 1:55 of the seventh round.

L.A.’s David Kaminsky (4-0, 2 KOs) out-pointed rugged Arizona’s Estevan Payan (1-7-1) to win by unanimous decision after four round in a middleweight contest.

Tyler McCreary (15-0-1, 7 KOs) fought to a draw with Mexico’s Roberto Castaneda (23-11-2) after six rounds. He got all he could handle from the Mexicali featherweight as both traded blow for blow throughout the contest. It was good experience for the young McCreary who looked good but tried too hard to take out the hard headed Castaneda.

Eric Puente (2-0) beat Alejandro Lopez (1-4) by decision after four rounds in a lightweight match by 39-37 scores all three cards. It was a very close match with little separation between the two.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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