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Camacho Won't View His Age As An Obstacle


January 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved. 

The compliment brings instant gratification to a middle-age approaching parent, and Hector ''Macho'' Camacho is no exception.

Strangers approach Camacho and tell him they can't distinguish whether they are talking to the three-time world champion or his 24-year-old son, Hector Jr. Youthful appearance, causing confusion when telling apart father and son, makes Camacho beam with pride.

''I'm a young-looking character, always feel good,'' said Camacho, who turned 40 last May. ``I don't feel like an old man or talk like one.

``Look at me, I don't have a bald spot, gray hair or flabby stomach. I'm also not punchy or have a puffy nose. I'm a handsome American-Puerto Rican. A good example for the 40-year-old set.''

Fueled by his feel-young attitude, Camacho believes his pro boxing career is not ready for historical reference. After an 18-month layoff, Camacho returns to the ring tonight to headline a card at the Okalee Native Village in Hollywood.

Camacho will make the sixth South Florida ring appearance of his 81-fight career. His previous local bout -- in January 2001 at Club Level on South Beach -- also included Hector Jr. on the card.

''I have a lot left in the pump,'' said Camacho, who will fight 39-year-old journeyman Angel Beltre in his return bout. 'Although I've been away for a while, people were always asking me, `When are you going to fight again?' not 'Why are you still fighting?' ''

A former junior-lightweight, lightweight and junior-welterweight world champion, Camacho (75-4-2, 36 knockouts) has not fought since winning a 12-round decision over Roberto Duran in July 2001.

''It's not like I come to the gym and beat up sparring partners and get into wars with them,'' Camacho said. ``I'm not a fighter who's getting beat around much or has suffered serious injuries.''

Indeed, Camacho has been defined by defense, constant ring movement or clinching, and punching when necessary.

As a result, Camacho has taken the best shots and lasted the distance with some of the sport's top fighters of the past 20 years, such as Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Edwin Rosario.

Camacho also has two victories over Duran and ended Sugar Ray Leonard's ill-fated comeback in 1997 with a fifth-round technical knockout.

Camacho says he doesn't need to keep fighting because of financial problems.

''I'm pretty comfortable,'' Camacho said. ``Years go by and you get into a habit of spending. But I have also made some good investments.''

Camacho also wants to set the example for his son, whose boxing career currently is at a crossroads. A former top-ranked junior-welterweight contender, Camacho Jr. had a controversial performance against James Leija in 2001, when fans questioned his ring character after he stopped fighting because of a cut and was awarded a technical decision. The younger Camacho then suffered his first professional loss to Omar Weis early last year.

''I want to work with my son more,'' Camacho said. ``Right now I advise my son, but there will come a time when I want to take over.''

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