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Hector Camacho’s Life Ended As He Lived It



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 It was several more days before his grief stricken mother made the decision to have withdrawn the plug that was giving him life, something she refused to do until his entire family was around him.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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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.



Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face



Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar



Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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