SAN ANTONIO – Boxing aficionados who have long suspected Hector Camacho Jr. was a better fit for a stripper’s pole than a prizefighting ring got their chance to see fate show its wares Friday afternoon. Saturday, they’ll get a chance to see “Machito” back in a prizefighting ring, too.
On center stage at Allstar’s Gentlemen’s Sports Club a few miles northwest of the downtown area, Camacho (53-4-1, 28 KOs), without a late-replacement opponent to stand across from, took center stage at the weighin for his Saturday fight. Then the moment took him. Pulling a towel from his soft waist and revealing nary a stitch lay between the audience and his smooth brown skin, Camacho climbed on a stripper pole and slid along it while his name was called.
An iota of decorum returned, the towel was held in front of the weighin’s medical scale, and Camacho made 164 1/2 pounds – his career’s second-highest weight. His substitute opponent, John David Charles (7-4, 1 KO), of Corpus Christi, Texas – a man who has weighed between 137 pounds and 155 1/2 in his last four fights – will be weighed on Saturday morning.
“They called me this morning,” Camacho explained about his weight, “they told me, ‘Your opponent’s scratched-off, so you can eat.’ I said, ‘Huh? That’s a joke!’ I thought it was a joke. ‘Don’t tell me twice,’ I told them, ‘I’m going to eat. I don’t want to hear no sh-t about my weight.’ I warned them, and you know I warned them.”
Camacho, who began his career at junior welterweight and was undefeated for five years before a no-contest against San Antonio’s Jesse James Leija in 2001 began his career’s spiraling away, is now a practicing Muslim, attributes his latest comeback to the good habits Islam has taught him, and believes he still has the talent, and name, to get himself another title shot at a lower weight.
“I weighed fifty-seven (157) this morning,” Camacho said before weighing-in. “Maybe at 54. I could make 47. I’ve got no excuse. I’m small. I ain’t no 68 pounder. I shouldn’t be fighting no motherf–king animals. I shouldn’t have to, man. I should not have to. I must be sick.”
Asked what advice about his comeback his father – Hector “Macho” Camacho – has offered him, Camacho Jr. replied with characteristic candor.
“He told me, ‘It’s rare that somebody get a second chance in boxing. You got it, now, take advantage’,” Camacho said, before continuing in his dad’s voice. “‘You f–ked up your own name, now it’s up to you to get it back.’”
Camacho, who now divides his residency between Panama and his native Puerto Rico, will be making a return of sorts to Alamo City, as Saturday’s match will be his second time fighting in this town. Fourteen years ago next month, Camacho fought on the undercard of Leija’s fourth and final match with Azumah Nelson.
“I call him ‘Jesse James Vieja’ now,” Camacho said, and he laughed. “He’s old. I call him ‘Vieja.’ That’s Spanish for old. Jesse James ‘Vieja’; I’m going to call him out.”
Doors open at 6:00 PM on Saturday’s card at La Villita’s Maverick Plaza, with first bell scheduled to sound at 7:30. 15rounds.com will have full ringside coverage.