By Lance Pugmire
7:42 PM PST, November 20, 2012
Hector "Macho" Camacho, a former three-division champion, was shot and seriously wounded in his native Puerto Rico on Tuesday, leaving the boxing showman fighting for his life, according to police and media reports.
Reports from the scene said Camacho was in critical condition late Tuesday after being shot in the neck and face while seated in a Ford Mustang outside a bar in his hometown of Bayamon.
Another man in the car was killed, according to Associated Press. A motive in the attack was unknown, officials said.
Camacho, 50, had 88 pro bouts, going 79-6-3 against a who's who of legendary opponents stretching from Ray Mancini (whom he defeated in 1989) to Oscar De La Hoya (who beat him by decision in 1997).
"My heart and prayers go out to him and his family," De La Hoya said Tuesday. "I really do hope he makes it out OK."
Known for long, outlandish trunks sometimes decorated by tassles, Camacho also displayed theatrics in the ring while facing the likes of Freddie Roach, Cornelius Boza Edwards, Felix Trinidad, Roberto Duran and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.
"When he was young, you couldn't hit him, that's why he won his first 50 fights," veteran boxing publicist Bill Caplan said.
Yet, when Camacho suffered his first loss in a 1991 World Boxing Organization lightweight title bout against Greg Haugen at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, his true nature shined.
"You'd think the guy would be devastated, but 15 minutes after the loss, he was back in press row for the second fight of the HBO doubleheader, shaking everyone's hands," Caplan said. "Just a happy-go-lucky guy who loved people."
Camacho's toughness was unmistakable, however, especially on the 1992 evening when a sold-out Las Vegas fight crowd watched Chavez Sr. pummel him with body shots en route to a unanimous decision. Camacho refused to let his corner throw in the towel.
His love of the sport was evident both in his desire to entertain beyond fisticuffs, and instances like his 1995 fight in the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Promoter Don Chargin recalled main-event fighter Camacho showing up with his hands wrapped, in a robe and colorful trunks, to sit alongside off-night fighters and managers in complementary seats to watch preliminary matches 90 minutes before his own bout against Tony Rodriguez.
"He just wanted to be with people," Caplan said.
Chargin also recalled that after Camacho beat Roach -- now Manny Pacquiao's famed trainer -- in a 1985 bout at Sacramento's Arco Arena, the fighter told Chargin to hold his $50,000 purse because "I don’t need it now. When I do, I’ll call and ask you for it."
One year later, he said, Camacho phoned him for the money.
"I've met fighters who were characters," Caplan said. "He was one of a kind."
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