SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hector “Macho” Camacho was clinging to life Wednesday after being shot in the face while in a car, with doctors and his family expected to decide whether to remove the former boxing champion from life support.
Doctors initially had said Camacho was in critical, but stable condition and expected to survive after he was shot Tuesday night in his hometown of Bayamon. But his condition worsened overnight and his heart stopped at one point, said Dr. Ernesto Torres, director of the Centro Medico trauma center in San Juan.
“He’s battling minute to minute. This is the most important fight of his life,” Torres told The Associated Press outside the hospital in the Puerto Rican capital.
Torres said doctors were trying to determine the boxer’s level of brain activity.
The specialists will then consult with other doctors and Camacho’s mother, who flew in Wednesday from New York, to discuss whether he should be removed from life support, said Ismael Leandry, a longtime friend and former manager who was also at the hospital.
“We just have to wait to see if ‘Macho‘ gets better. It’s a hard battle,” Leandry told AP.
“His mother came and she is devastated,” he said. “She knows the prognosis is not at all favorable.”
A godson, Widniel Adorno, said the family has discussed the possibility of organ donation but no final decision has been made.
The 50-year-old Camacho was outside a bar in a parked Ford Mustang with a friend when he was shot in the face. The friend, identified as 49-year-old Adrian Mojica Moreno, was killed. Police said two assailants fled in an SUV but no arrests have been made and no motive has been disclosed.
Camacho was rushed to Centro Medico, where doctors initially said the bullet passed through his jaw and lodged in his shoulder. Torres said the bullet damaged three of the four main arteries in his neck and fractured two vertebrae, which could leave him paralyzed if he were to survive.
Steve Tannenbaum, who has also represented Camacho in the past, had been told earlier by friends at the hospital that the boxer would make it.
“This guy is a cat with nine lives. He’s been through so much,” he said. “If anybody can pull through it will be him.”
Friends and family members waited anxiously at the hospital, fondly recalling Camacho’s high-energy personality and his powerful skills in the ring.
“He was like a little brother who was always getting into trouble,” said former featherweight champion Juan Laporte, a fellow Puerto Rican who grew up and trained with Camacho in New York.