Ex-foes describe sharing the squared circle with Hector ‘Macho’ Camacho
Past opponents of legendary boxing icon Hector “Macho” Camacho, including “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Felix “Tito” Trinidad and Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, share their first-hand experiences with the former world champion and recall his trademark flamboyant style in advance of the MACHO: THE HECTOR CAMACHO STORY documentary premiere Friday, December 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME.
MACHO: THE HECTOR CAMACHO STORY is an unflinching look at the remarkable life, storied career and unsolved murder of one of boxing’s greatest showmen. Through rare and revealing interviews with his mother, Maria Matias, sisters, wife Amy and son Hector Jr., the documentary also delves into the legendary fighter’s troubled mind and spirit, his battle with addiction and the inner turmoil that ultimately led to his demise – a mysterious double homicide on a roadside in November 2012. The film is directed by two-time Emmy® Award winner Eric Drath. Drath and Danielle Naassana, both of Live Star Entertainment, served as producers and sixteen-time Emmy Award winner Aaron Cohen served as writer and consulting producer.
In addition to Leonard, Trinidad and Roach, past world champions Ray Mancini, Greg Haugen, Vinny Pazienza and more reminisce about climbing into the ring against the flashy and skilled Hector “Macho” Camacho:
SUGAR RAY LEONARD – March 1, 1997; In Ray Leonard’s final career fight, Camacho won by fifth-round TKO: “We were both naturally past our prime, but I just felt that I was a bigger man. I was smarter, stronger, all those things, but the first time he threw a punch, it was like, Pow! And I said, ‘Wow, that hurt.’ I tried the best I could to just go the distance. When he was at his best, he was a thing of beauty.”
FELIX “TITO” TRINIDAD – January 29, 1994; IBF Welterweight Title: “I first met Macho Camacho when I was 12 years old at an indoor arena event in Puerto Rico. He was already a world champion. I was in awe. Camacho was talking to everyone and being himself. He ate 12 empanadas at once just to be funny.
“When I got to fight him, it was my third title defense. I was 21 and he was 10 years older than me. He had so much experience and played so many mind games. At the final press conference, he sat at the very end of the table – sideways, kind of ignoring the press – and staring at me. When it was his time to talk, he just talked trash. He was such a showman. When we got in the ring in Las Vegas, like every fighter at a crossroads fight, I was a little nervous. He was such a great fighter. He was so experienced and technical. He was a little crazy but was such a good person. Humble.
“After the fight, he came over with his chin down and congratulated me. He was like a different person – he was so friendly and calm. ‘It was a good fight,’ he told me. ‘You are going to be a great champion. Keep on climbing.’ It was a great experience for me. After that fight, I felt something had changed in me as a fighter. I had shared a ring with Macho Camacho. You are never the same after that. He helped me be a better fighter. He was the first Puerto Rican I ever faced. The only fighter that cut me. I got my win against him the same night [Frankie] Randall handed Julio Cesar Chavez his first defeat. It was a historic night.”
FREDDIE ROACH – December 18, 1985; Camacho won a super lightweight bout via unanimous decision to improve to 28-0: “Hector Camacho was the best boxer I ever fought. His speed was unbelievable. At one point during the fight, we were in a clinch and I bit his shoulder. He stepped back, smiled, and told me, ‘That’s not going to work.’ He was right. I had so much trouble handling his speed. You just couldn’t prepare for it – and I had a really good training camp. I was really up for that fight. I think I won one round and that was only because I stepped on his foot and got a knock down. After the fight, we bumped into each other in our hotel lobby and he took me to dinner at the hotel restaurant. We talked and laughed throughout dinner. He was a great guy.”
RAY MANCINI – March 6, 1989; Camacho won a split decision for the vacant WBO Junior Welterweight title: “Hector had an uncanny ability to avoid punches. He had excellent hand speed, movement and reflexes. He got in the ring with everybody. And he was funny as hell. At first, I couldn’t stand him. But once we were retired, we buried the hatchet and every time we’d see each other, it was hugs and laughs. He made everyone laugh. He was a good soul. I was heartbroken when I heard the news about his murder. In my book, when you talk about all-time greats, he is in the top five for Puerto Rican fighters and top 20 for Latino fighters.”
GREG HAUGEN – February 23, and May 18, 1991; Camacho’s first career loss and the rematch for WBO Jr. Welterweight World Championship: “Camacho was looking for a tune-up fight for the big battle of the undefeateds with Julio Cesar Chavez so that’s how I got the fight. But I had studied his fights and I knew Hector only liked to fight a minute, minute and a half of each round. My plan going into the fight was to make him fight three minutes of each round. I was hitting him with body shots and he was wincing. And plus, I was talking to him the whole fight, so he was getting frustrated. So we get to the 12th round and he ends up sucker punching me before the start of the round because I refused to touch gloves, and they end up taking a point from him which won me the fight. (In the rematch) he was so sure he lost the fight, he actually left the ring after the fight. The promoter Dan Duva had to pull him out of his dressing room and basically talk him into getting back in the ring to hear the decision. He had to win that fight because that would line him up with Chavez. I thought I beat him more so in the second fight than the first fight.”
VINNY PAZIENZA – February 3, 1990; Camacho won a unanimous decision for the WBO Junior Welterweight title: “I thought I was going to wreck him. I thought I was going to go right through him. But he was much stronger and much faster than I believed. And I was thinking, ‘Oh God, I’m in for a long night.’ He got ready for me like no other fight. He was so amped and so ready. He got off all the drugs. He wasn’t drinking. He got up so high and after he beat me, he was never the same again. Hector was such a character. He surpasses me in that capacity. He was a wild guy and he was wild his whole life.”
PJ GOOSSEN – June 18, 1999; Camacho won a unanimous decision at the age of 37 to improve his record to 68-4-1: “That was a bad night for me. I had three broken ribs, and no one really knew it. So, I could barely breathe, let alone fight, but that’s what you have to do in boxing sometimes. As we were getting ready for the fight, his dressing room was right next to mine and they had this door separating us. I could hear him before the fight yelling, ‘Macho time!’ ‘Macho time!’ And he hits the wall. And he keeps doing that, yelling louder and louder. Well, he hit the door so hard it busted through and he fell into my dressing room. So, he gets up and walks back in around through the other opening and says, ‘Sorry about that.’ It was actually pretty funny and me and my dad and brother were laughing. To come back in and apologize when he’s supposed to be getting hyped up to fight me. I would mark him down as one of the best lefthanders there ever was, especially when he was at featherweight and lightweight.”