The late, great Hector Camacho is a fighter who holds many distinctions, yet one of the less celebrated achievements on the part of “The Macho Man” is his ability to have ended the careers of not one but two all-time greats of the sport. In 1997, Camacho hammered what was left of the once dazzling Sugar Ray Leonard; “Macho” scoring a fifth round stoppage. And then, in July of 2001, Camacho faced the last dying embers of the once full of fire Roberto Duran.
Duran, having just celebrated his 50th birthday, had a little more left than Leonard had been able to show at age 41, certainly in terms of punch resistance (not that Camacho, even when in his prime, had too much venom in his shots, this making the TKO win he scored over the once untouchable Sugar Ray all the more disturbing to witness).
But Duran, who at the time seemed destined to walk the path of a once great fighter who had absolutely no clue when it came to what to do with his life when the gloves were finally prized from his swollen hands, was a veritable shell of his once awesome self. That said, Duran had almost certainly done more than enough to have won his first fight with Camacho, this in June of 1996. On that night the decision went to Camacho, yet you could find a whole heap of people who strongly felt it should not have.
Two battles with Jorge Castro (and a sickening hammering at the hands of William Joppy) later, and the Panama Vs. Puerto Rico showdown was on again. This time, Camacho, never inclined to go into the kind of trenches Duran once loved to walk into and come through safe at the other side, danced his way to a dull but effective decision win. Duran had zero complaints this time. Nor did any of us who so badly wanted to see Duran retire; we were begging him almost.
Not too long after the loss, just the 16th in Duran’s five-decade long career, a car crash did what perhaps nothing else would have or could have. Duran retired, he hung up the gloves, at last willing to be idolised everywhere, especially in Panama. Camacho fought on, boxing on and off for some nine years, with “Macho,” quite ironically, going out with a decision loss to a guy named Duran (Saul).
Duran is still with us, happy, content and hero-worshipped. Sadly, Camacho died at the age of 50, the victim of a gunshot attack in 2012.
How great a fight, how special a fight would it have been had Duran and Camacho somehow been able to get into it in their respective lightweight primes?
Duran’s final record reads 103-16(70). Camacho’s final numbers are 79-6-3(38).