Hector Camacho vs John Montes – Alaska
Boxing has been apart of the American sports scene since the 1700’s by way of England. It started by infiltrating the larger port towns before eventually working it’s way into the lexicon of America. Starting as an illegal sport which saw it’s athletes arrested, it now showcases some of the most talented combat sports athletes in the world. We will embark on a 50 part saga exploring the best boxers representing the United States. Some states will obviously have more athletes to choose from than others but the journey will be quite the ride. Let’s embark on the journey looking at an interesting fighter from each state.
Our second entry covers the state of Alaska. Being a state in boxing’s land of obscurity, we will look at one of few boxing events to take place in the state with future star power on the card. If you missed the first state in our journey, Alabama, you can click here to read about the amazing story of Joe Louis. On this step in our journey across the nation we will take a look at the February 12, 1983 card that took place in Fort Richardson, just outside of Anchorage, which featured to future WBC champions, Hector “Macho” Camacho and John Montes.
Early Life and Pre-Fight Information
Entering the Alaska bout with John Montes, Camacho stepped into the ring with a record of 19-0 and the NABF super featherweight championship. Going up in weight to meet Montes at 134 pounds, Camacho knew with a big performance here, it would put him next in line for a WBC title shot. Born in Puerto Rico, Camacho moved to New York City when his parents separated at age three. A three-time New York Golden Gloves champion, Camacho began his professional career less than three years before this Alaska bout in September 1980. Though stepping into the ring with a bit more of a seasoned professional in Montes, Camacho had an amateur career spanning 100 fights, ending with a record of 96-4. More of a natural at the smaller weight classes, Camacho would walk into the ring with Montes standing 5’6″ and with a 69″ reach. He would be spotting Montes a 4″ height advantage but actually have an inch reach on his taller opponent.
Early Life and Pre-Fight Information
The 5’10” natural super-lightweight would walk into Alaska 23 years of age and sporting a professional record of 22-1. That lone loss up until the Camacho fight came to future champion Hilmer Kenty. This was actually his last bout prior to the Camacho fight which took place in August 1982. With a bit more time in the professional ranks, Montes turned professional in October 1979. Stepping in for battle against Camacho, Montes was confident in his knockout ability, scoring 17 of his 22 victories by way of TKO/KO.
Camacho/Montes Alaskan Clash
The two young budding stars would finally clash at the Buckner Fieldhouse, which has a maximum capacity of 3,500. Camacho had a lot riding on this bout. The number four WBC super featherweight contender pre-match, a decisive win would mean a title shot within the year. Bobby Chacon was the champion at this point but would later be stripped of the title. Montes had a lot riding on this fight as well. He entered the ring as WBC’s number seven lightweight contender. Alexis Arguello was the current champion in 1983 but would vacate the title early that same year.
The Fight Itself…Or What There was of It
The two fighters took to the center of the ring with it being obvious Montes has the height advantage. The Southpaw Camacho threw a jab that missed but followed it up immediately with a left hook which connected to Montes’ jaw. Montes hit the mat and was unable to answer referee Davey Pearl’s 10 count. This knockout helped catapult the career of Camacho. In August of the same year Camacho would knock out Rafael Limon to secure the WBC super featherweight championship. The reason Chacon was stripped of the title is because he refused to defend against Camacho, who was the number one contender at this point.
The Long-Term Aftermath
Moving ahead 27 years and Camacho retired with an impressive record of 79-6-3(38KOs.) If we really stop and think about it, what may have become of Camacho’s career if he suffered a loss here in Alaska? Would he have been mentally strong enough to endure and continue his fight to the top? Montes did not let the loss get him down and went on to have a great, respectable career. Though never winning a world title, he would go on to win the WBC Continental Americas Super Lightweight title about three and a half years later. Montes would also go on to meet such names as Pernell Whitaker and Cornelius Boza-Edwards. His career would be called to an end after 50 professional bouts, securing a 44-6(31KOs) record. The same questions can go for Montes in relation to the Alaska fight. What if Montes scored the victory over Camacho? Would Montes have been on track to get a WORLD title? Could a win have propelled Montes as a force to be reckoned with in the 1980’s?
Other Names on the Card
In the co-main event spot on this Alaskan card was another boxer of Puerto Rican decent, Harry Arroyo (17-0 at the time.) Arroyo was born in Youngston, Ohio, the same as another boxer who he shared local popularity with, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. The former Golden Gloves champion, Arroyo, turned professional in 1980 and entered the ring this night in Alaska to battle Kelvin Lampkin who was 10-11-2 at the time. Arroyo dominated Lampkin and walked away with the unanimous decision victory. In April of the next year (about 14 months later) Arroyo defeated Charlie Brown for the IBF World Lightweight title. We would successfully defend the title twice before dropping a unanimous decision to Jimmy Paul. After his retirement from action in 1993 (with a professional record of 40-11) Arroyo became a boxing judge, judging several bouts throughout Ohio.
Nearing the twilight of his career by the time Alaska came, Mickey Goodwin (30-1 at the time) had a very nice record heading into the bout with Ronnie Brown. Known for his amazing power, Goodwin knocked out Brown which would become one of his 28 KO victories. Goodwin would end his career with a professional record of 40-2-1. At one point Goodwin was actually scheduled to face then-champion Marvin Hagler in Italy on March 06, 1982. Unfortunately, Goodwin broke his hand and would never get another chance at the world title. An alley of Goodwin, Thomas Hearns, would eventually get a matchup with Hagler and would go on to be one of boxing’s greatest bouts in history. Trainer Emanuel Steward was Goodwin’s trainer out of Kronk Gym, the same time Hearns was in the Steward stable.
At quick glance this card may not seem significant in the large scheme of the sport of boxing. For the afore listed fighters, this was an event that either propelled their career, or slowed it down. Who knows what may have happened with the career of Camacho should he have lost or even been dominated. A state with the country’s coldest temperatures, no boxing commission, and ranked 48th in the nation in population makes for difficult situations to produce world-class boxers or even host world class boxers. Such roadblocks will be encountered on our 50-state nationwide journey. Next up we have the state of Arizona which is home to a few hall of famers and current young up and coming stars.
I am a life-long MMA fan who has been a fan since UFC 1. I was born in Illinois but raised in South Louisiana, home of many great mixed martial artists. I started martial arts at the age of 4 and continued into my adult years where I served nearly 10 years in law enforcement. I feel my job is to convey the stories of the MMA fighters we enjoy to watch and share their stories with the world.
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