I prefer to keep athletes in the proper perspective—that's never been more appropriate than in the case of Hector "Macho" Camacho. The former world champion died on Saturday after his family took him off life support following a shooting that left him brain dead.
Camacho had various run-ins with the law including: a child abuse arrest, per USA Today for allegedly throwing his teenage son to the ground, drug charges and burglary, per WTSP.com. Even the shooting that ultimately led to his death was contaminated by the presence of narcotics, per TMZ.
Perhaps this is callous, but the moment Camacho's serious boxing career ended, he was off my radar.
It's not that I didn't care for him, or any other person in his life, but just as we take the bad news of others we don't know in stride, I did the same with Camacho's public rap sheet. As far as I was concerned, his contribution to things I'm directly passionate about was done.
I don't allow those negative issues or even the infamous N-word interview with Larry Merchant (seen below) to cloud my opinion of him as a fighter.
Oddly enough, I didn't take it personally.
Even if I did, neither that event nor any other misstep could detract from what I believe is one of the most underrated careers in the last 25 to 30 years.
Camacho was an amazing 79-6-3 with 38 KOs in a career that touched four decades. It's true, it should have lasted only 15 or 20 years, but he isn't the first or the last fighter to fight well passed their prime.
In his best days, Camacho's hand speed, instincts, defense and chin were as good as you'll find in the sport. I've only seen one fighter who could throw combinations as fast as Camacho—and that was Meldrick Taylor, although the young Gary Russell is close.
Take a look at Camacho doing work:
He had awesome in-ring instincts that screamed street credibility and urban influence. It was part of his appeal and fuel for some of his critics. His overall style made him a polarizing figure.
Camacho's defense wasn't brilliant simply because he he was hard to hit; he could also take a punch.
In 88 professional fights, he was never knocked out or stopped. Not even Camacho was fast enough to fight an entire career without being caught with good shots. Perhaps his chin is the most underrated aspect of his game.
The only thing Camacho didn't have was major power—if he did, there is no telling what his record would have been.
He fought Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez and other big punchers, but none of them stopped him. He fought each of those men passed his prime, so he didn't beat them, but his effort was respectable in each instance.
He won four major world titles in his career, and he was a masterful showman.
I'm not one of those people that makes every person that recently passed away the greatest thing since sliced bread. If you weren't a good fighter on Tuesday, I'm not going to say you were great on Thursday, just because you died on Wednesday.
Camacho's career doesn't require any benefit of the doubt. Any footage of him in the ring during the 1980s is proof of that.
I only expected him to be great in the ring. Whatever the circumstances behind his troubles in the past and this most recent tragic event are what they are.
Only God can judge him for those.
I can judge, dish and reflect on what was a spectacularly gifted performer in the ring. That was his specialty, and now that he’s gone, that's what I choose to remember.
I hold fast to that which is good, and Camacho was one heck of a fighter.
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