FELT FORUM, NYC – When Hector “Macho” Camacho agreed to defend his world title against fellow Puerto Rican light weight Edwin Rosario at the Felt Forum in 1986, it was instantly the fight of the year.
How big was that fight? Bouts featuring Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez were on the under card.
And rightly so. At ages 23 and 24 respectively, the blazing fast Camacho, and the strong, plodding Rosario were both at their peaks. Their clashing styles also made for a classic match up that did not disappoint.
Camacho danced, jabbed, and flurried. But he didn’t run. He was willing to trade punches with Rosario, who stunned him in both the fifth and final rounds. Camacho proved a worthy champion, surviving both of these pugilistic bombings and winning in a split decision.
A great overview the fight can be found here.
There were more victories down the line for both men. Rosario got a belt in short order by beating Livingstone Bramble, who himself should be immortalized just for his name… if for nothing else. Meanwhile, Camacho bested Vinny Pazienza and split a pair of bouts with brawler Greg Haugen before losing a unanimous decision to Chavez, and other big ticket bouts to Felix Trinidad and Oscar de la Hoya.
But in some ways, that night in 1986 was the apex for both Rosario and Camacho. Not long thereafter, each began the kind of personal descent that is so common for drug-addled, brain damaged fighters.
Rosario fell into debt betting on cock fights and spiraled into drug addiction. He lost his family, ended up in jail, and died in 1997. Camacho kept fighting until just a couple of years ago. He also kept boozing and drugging. The low light came when he broke into a computer store in Mississippi, stole over $5,000, and peed on the floor.
Camacho’s end came the other night when he caught a bullet in the face while sitting in a car with a friend in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and either doing and/or dealing coke. The friend died instantly. Camacho lingered on life support for a few days before his mother had doctors pull the plug.
I usually rooted against Camacho during the late 1980s, back when he was one of the best fighters in the world. I sure was rooting hard for Rosario that night as I watched the fight at Angry Ward’s house. We all were.
Though he was NuYorican proud, born in Bayamon but raised in Spanish Harlem, Camacho just kinda rubbed us the wrong way. His brand of flashiness ruffled feathers. He was a preening pretty boy, with that single, dark curl dangling on his forehead, and that arrogant smirk we were hoping Roasario would wipe off his face.
But the sonofabitch could fight. He wasn’t just flash and dance. He could punch. And as he proved against Rosario, he could also take one. Rosario almost put him away twice, but Camacho stayed on his feet and earned that victory, much to our chagrin.
But leather and sweat is one thing. Coke and lead is another.
R.I.P., Macho Man. We’ll watch you dance and stick in that big Felt Forum in the sky.
West Coast Craig failed the MTM Concussion Test after slamming his head on his desk after our Steelers lost and cannot go this afternoon. Feel free to talk boxing, football or hot stove here.