PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Oct. 23rd, 2014) — Two years ago, with pressure to raise a family and provide his children with a stable home, Angel Camacho Jr. decided to step away from boxing, still undefeated after 12 professional fights.
“I could accept the fact I was no longer fighting,” said the father of three from Providence, R.I., “but it was difficult to swallow.”
Rather than live with regret, the 31-year-old super middleweight decided it’d be best to end his career on his terms. On Friday, Nov. 7th, 2014, Camacho (12-0, 4 KOs) will end a three-year layoff when he returns to the ring to face hard-hitting Tylon Burris (5-2, 3 KOs) of Hartford, Conn., in a six-round bout on the undercard of “Winner Take All,” the 2014 season finale for CES Boxing at Twin River Casino.
“Every night, I would lay my head down and watch a fight and wonder, ‘What if? … What could’ve happened?’ I didn’t want to live like that.”
Now he won’t have to. Win or lose, Camacho Jr. will get to write his own ending to what has been a tumultuous career both in and out of the ring.
Six years ago, at the height of his career, a 25-year-old prospect with a perfect 11-0 record, Camacho was forced to put boxing on hold when he was sentenced to 18 months in prison stemming from a felony domestic assault charge. Though he only served nine months, the case took two years to process, so Camacho wasn’t sentenced until January of 2011.
“I had to plead to something I really didn’t do because I didn’t have a lawyer,” he said. “It really makes you think about what’s important and what’s not important.”
Camacho Jr. returned to the ring later that year in December, ending a three-year hiatus with a win over Keith Kozlin. His comeback was in full swing. He even went as far as to re-sign with his original promoter, Jimmy Burchfield Sr., but conflicts within his camp, coupled with family obligations, forced him to step away from the game, this time by choice.
“It’s just life’s events. Life’s hurdles. Life’s complications,” Camacho Jr. said. “I had a divorce, a lot of mishaps. Then I was dealing with my significant other wanting me to stop, wanting me to spend more time at home.
“I thought I was done,” he continued. “My wife was happy. I was spending time with my family. Everything was good. Then her cousin asked me to train him. As I was helping him get in shape, I was getting in boxing shape.
“That itch came back again.”
With a new management team and a new trainer in Rhode Island-based Roland Estrada, Camacho Jr. immediately sought out Burchfield to resume his career. Burchfield welcomed him back with open arms, reuniting the team that helped bring Camacho to 11-0 before his first hiatus.
“I should’ve never left. I should’ve followed my passion. This is my first love,” Camacho Jr. said. “God gave me the talent to do this, so why not exploit that talent?
“I wasn’t meant to get to 12-0 and just stop fighting. There’s much more for me to do in boxing. I can help people. I can deliver a message, help guide people. I want to use boxing as a platform to reach out to kids in need.
“I’ve gone through a lot, having drug issues, self-medicating because of depression, to now being 100-percent focused and clean. I’m really focused on where I need to go in life.”
Stepping back into the game has been a breeze, mostly because of Estrada’s tutelage — “I’m doing things with [Estrada] that I’ve never done in boxing before,” he said — but also because he’s stayed in shape through the years due to the grueling, physical labor of his 9-to-5 job.
“I’m a chimney man,” he said. “I mix cement all day, carry around bricks, climb up and down ladders, clean chimneys, build chimneys, install wood stoves and liners for furnaces.
“It’s hard, physical labor. It’s a tough job. My body’s always aching. It’s very similar to boxing.”
Aside from the physical attributes, the mental aspect of boxing, arguably the most important part, has always been the foundation to Camacho’s success. He’s a student of the game, the kind of fighter who watches the sport night and day even if he’s not preparing for a fight.
“I truly, genuinely love the sport,” he said. “It’s like playing chess. I’ve been sparring with [junior middleweight world champion] Demetrius [Andrade]. He’s a technician. When I’m in there with him, I’m like, ‘I’m going to do this, this and this.’ It’s really like playing a game of chess.
“If I move my rook to this spot, his knight will be there. You have to be three steps ahead. That’s what I love about boxing. It’s a thinking man’s sport.”
The fight against Burris is no easy task. Burris has a reputation for being one of the region’s hardest punchers, known primarily for knocking out Connecticut’s Kevin Cobbs in 2012, to this day the only loss on Cobbs’ record. But this is a new and improved Camacho, one with less turmoil in his personal life, a father dedicated to raising his three children, Taytum (10), Cayden (6) and Aniya (10 months), while resuming a once-promising career derailed one too many times in the past.
Win or lose, Camacho Jr. will at least be able to walk away with no regrets, whenever that time comes.
“I’ve been boxing since I was 12,” he said. “It’s time to get back in there and see what happens.”
“Winner Take All” is an all-ages show. Tickets for the event are on sale now for $40, $100 and $126 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, at the Twin River Box Office or by phone at 401-724-2253/2254. Doors open at 6 and the first bout begins at 7 p.m. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
The main event is a 10-round championship bout for the vacant Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) female super bantamweight world title between Providence’s Shelito Vincent (12-0, 1 KO) and Jackie Trivilino (9-8-3, 1 KO) of Plattsburgh, N.Y.
“Winner Take All” also features New Bedford, Mass., prospects Ray Oliveira Jr. and Scott Sullivan; Worcester, Mass., light middleweight Khiary Gray-Pitts and undefeated welterweight Nick DeLomba of Cranston, R.I., all of whom will be featured in separate bouts, along with the Rhode Island debut of lightweight prospect Joey Tiberi Jr. of Newark, Del.
After winning their pro debuts in September, Oliveira Jr. (1-0, 1 KO) and Sullivan (1-0, 1 KO), both protégés of former world-title challenger Ray Oliveira Sr., are back at it on November 7th. Sullivan faces unbeaten lightweight Oscar Bonilla (2-0-1) of New Haven, Conn., while Oliveira Jr. takes on 6-foot-3 super middleweight Mike Rodriguez (0-1), an accomplished amateur from Springfield, Mass., who also debuted at Twin River last year when he faced Rhode Island’s KJ Harrison-Lombardi. Warwick, R.I., super middleweight and Air Force veteran Zack Christy (1-0), who also debuted in September, returns in a four-round bout against Springfield’s Pedro Joquin (0-1).
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