Inside the boxing ring, Camacho flourished. He won three Golden Gloves titles as an amateur, and after turning pro, he quickly became a contender with an all-action style reminiscent of other Puerto Rican fighters.
Long promoted by Don King, Camacho won his first world title by beating Rafael Limon in a super-featherweight bout in Puerto Rico on Aug. 7, 1983. He moved up in weight two years later to capture a lightweight title by defeating Jose Luis Ramirez, and successfully defended the belt against fellow countryman Edwin Rosario.
The Rosario fight, in which the victorious Camacho still took a savage beating, persuaded him to scale back his ultra-aggressive style in favor of a more cerebral, defensive approach.
The change in style was a big reason that Camacho, at the time 38-0, lost a close split decision to Greg Haugen at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in 1991.
Camacho won the rematch to set up his signature fight against Mexico's Julio Cesar Chavez, this time at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Camacho was roundly criticized for his lack of action, and the Mexican champion won a lopsided unanimous decision to retain the lightweight title.
"Even though people say I beat him easily, it wasn't that way," Chavez told Mexico's ESPN-Radio Formula this week. "He was a very fast fighter, he faced everything and it was very hard for me."
"He revolutionized boxing, Chavez said. "It's a shame he got mixed up in so many problems."
After that loss, Camacho became the name opponent for other rising contenders, rather than the headliner fighting for his own glory.
He lost a unanimous decision to another young Puerto Rican fighter, Trinidad, and was soundly defeated by De La Hoya. In 1997, Camacho ended Leonard's final comeback with a fifth-round knockout. It was Camacho's last big victory even though he boxed for another decade.
The fighter's last title bout came in 1997 against welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya, who won by unanimous decision. Camacho's last fight was his defeat by Saul Duran in May 2010. He had a career record of 79-6-3.
Doctors pronounced Camacho dead on Saturday after he was removed from life support at his family's direction. He never regained consciousness after at least one gunman crept up to the car in a darkened parking lot and opened fire.
No arrests and have been made, and authorities have not revealed many details beyond the facts that police found cocaine in the car and that the boxer and his friend, who was killed at the scene, had no idea the attack was coming. "Apparently, this was a surprise," said Alex Diaz, a police spokesman.
Survivors include his mother; three sisters, Raquel, Estrella and Ester; a brother, Felix; and four sons, Hector Jr., Taylor, Christian and Justin.