Jeff Zelevansky/Icon SMIMiguel Cotto remembered fellow Puerto Rican icon Hector "Macho" Camacho for his in-ring brilliance.Miguel Cotto was just two months shy of his third birthday when Hector Camacho won his first world title, a junior lightweight belt in August 1983.
But Camacho was a significant fighter for years beyond that and one of the best ever produced by Puerto Rico. So like most young boxing fans in Puerto Rico at that time, Cotto became a fan of "Macho Time."
Camacho died at age 50 on Saturday, four days after being shot in the face while sitting in a car in his hometown of Bayamon. His family made the difficult decision to remove him from life support.
Cotto, a three-division champion, would eventually follow Camacho and other Puerto Rican greats in carrying on the great tradition of Puerto Rico boxing. On Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT) at New York's Madison Square Garden, Cotto will challenge 154-pound titlist Austin Trout in an attempt to win his second junior middleweight belt.
Camacho's passing and what he meant to Puerto Rican boxing were topics of conversation with Cotto on a teleconference with reporters on Monday.
"'Macho' Camacho should be remembered as a great fighter," Cotto said. "I barely knew him, other than to speak with him at social events, so we were not close. But I definitely followed him as a child and he was a great champion who gave glory to the island."
Camacho (79-6-3, 38 KOs) won titles in three weight classes and defeated Sugar Ray Leonard (sending him back into retirement), Roberto Duran (twice), Edwin Rosario, Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, Vinny Pazienza, Rafael "Bazooka" Limon and Vinny Pazienza, among many others. He also lost to Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad and Julio Cesar Chavez in world title fights.
"Camacho had a rough life, he made the decisions he made," Cotto said of Camacho, who had many issues outside of the ring. "I prefer to remember 'Macho' Camacho for his brilliant career, his abilities in the ring, and the glory that he brought to his country, Puerto Rico."