In December, the boxing world lost one of its greats when Hector Camacho was killed in his native Puerto Rico. Camacho had been in wars with many of the greatest fighters of all time, including Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Julio Cesar Chavez and Greg Haugen, a fighter that he both won and lost split decisions against back in 1991.
Greg Haugen was expected to be a sacrificial lamb for Hector Camacho when the two first squared of in early 1991. Undefeated at 38-0, the "Macho Man" was being groomed to fight Mexican star Julio Cesar Chavez. Haugen was looked at as not much more of a tune up fight before that meeting took place.
Well, things didn't quite go according to plan as Haugen pulled off a controversial split decision victory that was highlighted by Camacho losing a point in the 12th round for throwing punches at Haugen after he refused to touch gloves prior to the start of action. That was all Greg Haugen would need as he took the narrow victory, capturing the WBO light welterweight title in the process.
They would meet once again in the same year. This time, it was Camacho getting the nod in a split decision, although it can be argued that Greg Haugen fought better in this fight than he had in the previous one. However, the judges didn't agree, instead giving Camacho the decision and setting up the showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez that was to take place following one more fight.
Greg Haugen and Hector Camacho knew each other well before those classic battles. They had sparred years prior in Alaska and were quite familiar with each other. That played out in the buildup to the fights and during them as Haugen tried to get into the head of Camacho and Camacho tried to belittle the less publicized Haugen. In the end, both made each other better, adding to their legacies.
In this interview with Haugen from The Jeff Mayweather Show, just a month after the tragic death of Camacho, Haugen recalls those stories and also goes into what their relationship was like following the end of their careers. He discusses seeing him for the first time in years at a Florida gym and wondering why Camacho was still fighting at 50 years of age. Although they had their fights inside and out of the ring, it appears Greg Haugen still had a level of respect for his former opponent, even though it can be hard to tell with his colorful language.
The rivalries of yesterday seem to be slipping into the distant past as each former great boxer dies off one by one. The stories such as the one shared by these two were what made the sport so great all those years ago. Hearing fighters like Greg Haugen recall the battles they faced is always great. In Haugen, whether you love him or hate him, you can always be sure you will get his honest opinion. And for that, he deserves respect.