Hector 'Macho' Camacho among inductees for Boxing Hall of Fame

The late Hector Camacho Sr., the flamboyant former three-division world titleholder, was always the life of the party and he sure would have enjoyed the one that will be thrown in June at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York.

"Macho" Camacho was one of three fighters elected to the Hall of Fame in the modern fighter category in balloting results announced Wednesday.

Former bantamweight and junior featherweight champion Lupe Pintor and former flyweight and junior flyweight champion Hilario Zapata were also elected by the Boxing Writers Association of America and a panel of international boxing historians.

In the non-participant category, Harold Lederman, the former longtime judge but best known as HBO's unofficial ringside judge, and Marc Ratner, the former longtime executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, were elected.

In the observer category, legendary broadcaster Col. Bob Sheridan and newspaper columnist Jerry Izenberg were elected.

They will be enshrined June 12 during the 27th annual induction ceremonies at the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Camacho (79-6-3, 38 KOs), who died at age 50 in 2012 as a result of a gunshot to the head while sitting in a parked car in San Juan, Puerto Rico, had a memorable career.

He was born in Puerto Rico but grew up on the streets of Spanish Harlem in New York, rising to fame and fortune while winning world titles at junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight, thanks to his ultra-fast hands and skills. He was a master technician with an all-time great chin, having never been stopped in any of his defeats, and was one of the biggest stars of the 1980s thanks to his regular presence on network television.

A southpaw, Camacho went 10-4-2 with two knockouts against world titleholders or Hall of Famers and defeated notable opponents such as Rafael "Bazooka" Limon (for his first world title in 1983 at age 21), Edwin Rosario (in a 1986 lightweight title defense) and Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini (for a vacant junior welterweight belt in 1989). Late in his career, when they were both past their best, Camacho twice outpointed Hall of Famer Roberto Duran.

A testament to Camacho's star power came in 1997 when, despite being past his prime, he landed two huge fights. He was selected as the comeback opponent for unretiring Sugar Ray Leonard and stopped him in the fifth round of what was Leonard's final fight. That win paved the way for a welterweight world title shot against a prime Oscar De La Hoya, who pounded him for 12 rounds and won a near-shutout decision.

Camacho fought until 2010 and was elected in his first year of eligibility.

Mexico's Pintor (56-14-2,42 KOs), who boxed from 1974 to 1995, won a bantamweight world title from countryman and Hall of Famer Carlos Zarate in 1979 and made eight defenses before vacating it to move up in weight in 1982. He held a junior featherweight world title from 1985 to 1986 and was 5-4 with one knockout against titleholders and Hall of Famers.

"This is great news for me. I have been waiting for this news and I am very happy it happened while I am alive," said Pintor, who fell in love with the sport as a child after watching countryman and Hall of Famer Ruben Olivares train. "I am very emotional and very thankful for this distinction."

He faced tragedy during his bantamweight title reign. In 1980, he knocked out Johnny Owen in the 12th round at Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Owen suffered a brain bleed in the fight, had surgery and spent nearly two months in a coma before dying.

Pintor took it hard, saying later: "When he died, it was like I lost a close friend."

After he vacated the bantamweight title, Pintor came up short in his first shot at a junior featherweight title in 1982, getting knocked out in the 14th round by Puerto Rico's Wilfredo Gomez, a Hall of Famer, in one of boxing's all-time great fights. Coincidentally, Lederman was one of the judges for that bout.

Zapata (43-10-1, 14 KOs), a southpaw from Panama, boxed from 1977 to 1993, and was 12-6-1 with four knockouts against titleholders and Hall of Famers. He had two reigns as a junior flyweight champion between 1980 and 1983 and held a flyweight world title from 1985 to 1987.

"I want to scream, I'm so happy about being elected," Zapata said. "I look forward to getting the Hall of Fame ring and seeing the fans and sharing this honor with them in Canastota. I'm especially honored to be in the Hall of Fame with [countryman] Roberto Duran. I have a close relationship with him. He was an inspiration to my career."

The always-enthusiastic Lederman spent more than 30 years scoring fights around the world, including more than 100 world title bouts. He joined HBO as its unofficial judge in 1986 and eventually retired from official judging in 1999.

"I'm so excited. It's one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me," Lederman said. "I'm so proud. It's mind-boggling. It's so important to be elected into the Hall of Fame. I think this is wonderful. I'm so happy. It's amazing."

Ratner ran the day-to-day operations of the Nevada State Athletic Commission from 1992 to 2006 and was known for showing calm leadership in the face of controversy, including his handling of Mike Tyson's infamous ear-biting incident with Evander Holyfield in their 1997 rematch for the heavyweight title in Las Vegas.

"I'm not only humbled, I'm stunned. I'm thrilled and couldn't be more excited and happy," said Ratner, who now works as a UFC executive. "With all these famous boxers in the Hall, it's very exciting for me."

Sheridan, who began calling fights on the radio in 1967, has called more than 10,000 bouts and 998 world title fights, primarily on the international feed of telecasts around the world, and has done so with the joy of a kid on Christmas morning.

He even called the international broadcast of the infamous Holyfield-Tyson ear-bite fight just 24 hours after suffering a heart attack, coming to ringside with his cardiologist.

"It's the culmination of a career that's almost 50 years long," Sheridan said. "This is the most prestigious award that I could possibly ever receive and to be elected by my peers and be with such an unbelievable group of guys, all of whom are my friends that are in the Hall of Fame, it's just a thrill beyond thrills."

The 85-year-old Izenberg, who still writes columns for the Newark Star-Ledger, is one of the great sports columnists in history. He has written on all sports -- including covering every Super Bowl -- but he has been closely identified with his boxing writing, which took him around the world, including covering Muhammad Ali.

"I can't believe it. I really appreciate it and I'm just so moved by this honor," Izenberg said. "I'm absolutely flabbergasted because I really feel so many of the inductees I personally knew. Some of them were my heroes and some of them my compatriots. The fact is I'm just so grateful."

Two others were also elected posthumously: 1930s featherweight champion Petey Sarron in the old-timer category and trainer Whitey Esneault, who trained fighters from the 1930s until his death in 1968, in the non-participant category.