Hector Camacho, the flamboyant and often volatile former three-division world champion, was shot in the jaw in Bayamon, Puerto Rico while riding as a passenger in a car on Tuesday night and is listed in critical condition at Centro Medico in San Juan. The driver of the car was fatally shot.
Bayamon Police are investigating the incident and have one suspect in custody, according to reports in the newspaper Primera Hora.
According to the medical director of the hospital, Camacho was struck once in the left jaw and the bullet traveled down his neck and lodged in his right shoulder. Along the way the bullet fractured his 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae and Camacho lost so much blood that he needed a transfusion. There was no mention of paralysis and doctors could not determine whether he had been struck by a second bullet.
The 50-year-old Camacho was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico but his family moved to Spanish Harlem when he was a child. Camacho was a troubled teenager, but took to boxing. He was a three-time New York Daily News Golden Gloves champion.
Camacho won his first world title when he defeated Rafael “Bazooka’’ Limon for the vacant lightweight title in Puerto Rico. After dropping Limon in the first and third rounds, Camacho scored a TKO victory in the fifth.
His fight against Edwin Rosario at Madison Square Garden altered Camacho’s style for the rest of his career. It was a tough fight where Rosario pounded Camacho, who held on for a split decision. After that Camacho became more of a defense-first fighter who avoided engaging in the kind of punishing back-and-forth tactics as he had deployed against Rosario.
One of Camacho’s signature matches came against Julio Cesar Chavez in Las Vegas in 1992. Both men were undefeated champions and they came into the ring with a combined record of 81-0. Camacho failed to engage Chavez and his continuous retreating helped Chavez score a unanimous decision.
Perhaps Camacho will be known most for sending Sugar Ray Leonard into retirement. Leonard hadn’t fought in six years and was making his third comeback attempt when he met Camacho in 1997. Camacho knocked out Leonard in the fifth round. That was his last real ring hurrah as his life slipped into a series of misadventures and run ins with the law.
Camacho’s son, Hector, Jr., followed his father into boxing. But he never had the acclaim as his father.