HC ERBy “Bad” Brad Berkwitt

(June 26, 2013) The date was June 13, 1986. Barry Diller, head of News Corp., creates Fox, the fourth television network. Oprah Winfrey’s show hits the airwaves on national television. Nintendo video games are introduced in the United States and sales sky rocket.

In the boxing world, the equivalent to a modern day “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya was defending his World Boxing Council Lightweight Championship (WBC) title for the first time. That 24 year old champion was none other than Hector “Macho” Camacho. Camacho was defending against fellow Puerto Rican, and former WBC Lightweight Champion Edwin “Chapo” Rosario.

Rosario lost the title that Camacho held to Jose Luis Ramirez, who Camacho beat to win it ten months earlier. Camacho won by a 12 round unanimous decision, and Rosario was stopped in four by Ramirez.

Going into this fight, Camacho was at the top of his game with a perfect record of 29-0 with 16 knockouts. Rosario had a record of 28-1 with 24 knockouts. On paper, this fight had the makings of a “Super Fight.” By the attendance that evening at Madison Square Garden in New York, it lived up to the hype.

On this night, the nickname “Macho” was truly put to the test, and Camacho earned every dime of his $500,000 paycheck.

During the first two rounds, the fighters split them, winning two each. In the fifth round, the tide would change and Rosario was riding a surfboard right into the storm which was Camacho. Camacho was badly hurt when Rosario caught Camacho pulling back from a right hand and whacked him with a left hook.

As the fans stood for the action in the ring, Camacho showed great heart and survived the fifth round. Starting in the sixth, Camacho got back to his game plan and won the next five rounds with his boxing ability and a piston-like jab, which, in his prime, was a weapon that confused many an opponent he faced.

But just as Camacho was pulling out the victory, he got caught by another huge hook from Rosario in the eleventh round. Camacho survived as he did in the fifth, but at this point, he had nothing left in the tank.

In the 12th and final round, Rosario easily won the round and put the fate of the match in the hands of the three judges at ringside.

Many ringside observers thought Camacho had lost for the first time in a fight where he was cut over his left eye which required three stitches that also went along with a swollen nose and two black eyes.

When the scorecards were announced, two judges had it 115-113 for Camacho. The third judge had it 114-113 for Rosario and scored the fifth and the eleventh rounds 10-8 for the challenger.

Camacho after the Rosario fight…

Camacho went on to defend his WBC Lightweight Title one time three months later with a 12 round decision over former champion Cornelius Boza-Edwards. Camacho became somewhat inactive over the next 2 ½ years, with only three fights, but all were wins. On March 6, 1989, he faced former Lightweight Champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini who was making a comeback to the ring. The fight was for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) championship, and in a highly disputed decision, Camacho was crowned the new champion.

Camacho went on to defend his belt with decision wins over Vinny Pazienza and Tony Baltazar. On February 23, 1991, Camacho faced defeat for the first time in eleven years as a professional, when he dropped a 12 round decision to Greg Haugen for his WBO belt. Less than three months later, Camacho who seemed to be past his prime at this point of his career, won the title back from Haugen via a points win.

The “Macho Man” fought on, but with none of the great success of his early career and in three title attempts over the next six years, he lost to champions Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad, and Oscar De La Hoya all via decisions offering very little in each fight.

Today, Camacho fights on, and though his skills eroded years ago, he is still a fan favorite on the club circuit.

A couple of points on Camacho that are solely my opinion, but I feel because of the fact that Camacho has fought on far too long, the boxing world has forgotten just how great he was in his heyday. A fighter with lighting fast hands, who had a masterful elusive style along with hardly ever being hit up until the Rosario fight, which came in his seventh year as a professional fighter. I would rather remember him for the greatness he showed in the ring in the first eleven years of his boxing career where he went undefeated.

The other point I would like to make is the comparison of Hector to his son. There is no comparison except in name only. Hector, SR. in his prime was a much better fighter in all areas except maybe power, but I would debate that as well.

Hector, JR. is a decent fighter, but can never be in the same league as his father, who I think when he finally does hang up his gloves, is guaranteed Hall of Fame induction the first year he is eligible.

(Update: Sadly on November 24, 2012, Hector Camacho was murdered at the age of 51, in a drug hit in his country of Puerto Rico. RIP “Macho Man”.

Rosario after the Camacho fight…

After the Camacho loss, Rosario would rebound 3 1/2 months later when he captured the World Boxing Council (WBC) Lightweight Title by knocking out then champion Livingstone Bramble. Rosario would defend his title one time on August 11, 1987, with an eighth round knockout over top rated lightweight challenger Juan Nazario.

Three months later, he would attempt his second title defense against former WBC Super Featherweight Champion Julio Cesar Chavez who sported a 56-0 record and was moving up in weight. Chavez would stop Rosario in the eleventh round.

Rosario would come back with seven straight wins against below average opponents, but on July 9, 1989 he faced Anthony Jones for the vacant WBA Lightweight Title. “Chapo” was losing the fight, but came back to stop Jones in the sixth round.

In his next defense, he would face former opponent JuanNazario, but this time around, the fight was stopped on cuts. The fight went to the scorecards and Nazario was the new champion. Rosario reeled off one win and moved up in weight on June 14, 1991, when he faced then WBA Junior Welterweight Champion Loreta Garza.

Within three rounds, Rosario was a three-time world champion. Once again, Rosario lost his current title in his first defense when on April 10, 1992; he was stopped by Japanese challenger Akinobu Hiranaka, in one round.

Rosario would have two fights between 1992 & 1993 and then dropped out of boxing for the next four years. Edwin would become addicted to cocaine which held him back from fighting during those years.

Rosario at least appeared to have beaten his demons when in 1997, he came back to the ring where he ran off five straight wins that year, all via knockout. Just three months after his knockout win over Harold Bennett, Rosario, at age 34, sadly died of an aneurism on December 1, 1997, reported as caused by a drug overdose.

More than 5 thousand people came to the funeral and watched from their homes as Rosario’s coffin was driven from the funeral home to the cemetary.

When boxing was a mainstay on ABC, CBS and NBC, Rosario was beamed into many households. Because of this, along with his many great fights, Rosario will always remain in our hearts and minds. Rest in peace, “Chapo.”

By Actor