As I typed the title for this article, it struck me how ridiculous it was that these two fighters were even facing each other in a professional boxing match, (a PPV fight!) And not a benefit exhibition for some worthy Hispanic cause.
"Image is Everything" -- the mantra for the 90's. Style over substance is a mating call to the twin sirens of money and celebrity. If you can somehow combine longevity with either flash-dash or a semblance of true substance, you got it made, babe. . .
No matter how some may view Roberto Duran's career, his claim on fistic greatness is one of the bedrock's of boxing history. Hector "Macho" Camacho is another case altogether. Camacho has been the ultimate example of style over substance throughout his career. In the early stages of his career he showed real flashes of brilliance. Yet, his destruction of Bazooka Limon for the WBC jr. Lightweight title back in August 1983, while breathtaking in its elegance, was the peak of his disappointing career.
Camacho spent the rest of the 80's more involved in moreheadlines than fights. Even the incredibly rude wake-up call Edwin Rosario gave him in Madison Square Garden in June of ‘86 didn't straighten out Hector's act. He pulled out a very controversial decision over the fading Rosario, but for the first time in his career he had been hurt and put in jeopardy by an opponent. Hector was so full of hubris, his ego never recovered from that particular dose of reality that Rosario laid on him. From that point on, Camacho has seemingly gone thru the motions as a fighter. These days, he's down to sinning titles so spurious they make even a laughable organization like the WBO seem legitimate.
In light of all this, the fight with Duran took on an eerie quality. It was like watching an old kinescope from the distant past, the herky jerky but comparatively slow motion action from the fighters was a painful and haunting reminder of past glories. . .
Camacho somehow was awarded an incredibly lopsided unanimous decision. My ex-brother-in-law, Long Island Eddie, who bet his lungs on Duran for this fight, called me up from the lobby of the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, "Bucket!" he screamed in anguish, "Ya gotta send me some dough, quick! The fix was in and I'm cleaned out and the greedy little bastards are after me!" Before he could continue with his frantic screed, I asked him what the hell had happened and who exactly was after him. . . "The freakin' books! Who the hell else would wanna piece of my miserable hide. . ."
Naturally, I tried to shift the focus from who was after his decrepit carcass to a report on what had happened from his perspective at ringside. "Camacho" he continued in a sniveling whine, "clearly won the first two rounds; from then on he played patty cake. Many of his soft jabs never even landed. Duran's body shots were clearly the significant blows in the fight. . . those, and an occasional hard lead right. . . Jeez, he even stunned Camacho a bunch times. I'm tellin' ya Bucket, I had freakin' Duran winnin' 8-3-1 in rounds. . . I wuz robbed! Let me tell ya, at the end of the fight, I kept lookin' at Duran and his trunks. . . the colors of panama, white and red. After the freakin' decision those damn colors symbolized both fighters after the fight: white, Duran's shocked face; red, the crimson welts covering Camacho's body!"
Long Island Eddie's quasi-evocative discourse almost made me fall for his con; but thankfully on of the "books" looking for him spied him on the lobby phone and Eddie took off like he had a hellhound on his trail. . . Which brings me to the end of this particular trail. There was a fight tonight, between two way-past-their-prime fighters that in their heyday would never have met and now to compound the absurdity of it all there is going to be a rematch. . .
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