SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Former world boxing champion Hector "Macho" Camacho was in critical condition Wednesday after being shot in his native Puerto Rico, with doctors and his family expected to wrestle with whether to take him off life support after his condition worsened.
Doctors had said Camacho was expected to survive after he was shot in the face while sitting in a car 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 that two specialists will examine the boxer to determine his level of brain activity.
The specialists will then consult with other doctors and Camacho's mother, who was expected to arrive from the U.S. mainland, 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.
The 50-year-old Camacho was outside a bar in a parked car with a friend when he was shot in the face. The friend, whose name has not been released, was killed, police said. No arrests have been made and no motive has been disclosed.
Camacho was rushed to Centro Medico, where doctors initially said he was fortunate in that the bullet passed through his head and lodged in his shoulder. Torres did warn, however, that the boxer, who was trailed by drug and alcohol problems during a career that included some high-profile bouts, could be paralyzed from the shooting.
Steve Tannenbaum, who has also represented Camacho in the past, said he was told 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."
Camacho has been considered one of the more controversial figures in boxing.
The fighter's last title bout came against then-welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya in 1997, a loss by unanimous decision. He last fought in May 2010, losing to Saul Duran. Tannenbaum said they were looking at a possible bout in 2013.
"We were talking comeback even though he is 50," he said. "I felt he was capable of it."
Camacho was born in Bayamon, one of the cities that make up the San Juan metropolitan area. He won super lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight world titles in the 1980s.
Camacho has fought other high-profile bouts in his career against Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez and Sugar Ray Leonard. Camacho knocked out Leonard in 1997, ending what was that former champ's final comeback attempt.
Camacho has a career record of 79-5-3, with his most recent fight coming in 2009.
Drug, alcohol and other problems have trailed Camacho since the prime of his boxing career. He was sentenced in 2007 to seven years in prison for the burglary of a computer store in Mississippi. While arresting him on the burglary charge in January 2005, police also found the drug ecstasy.
A judge eventually suspended all but one year of the sentence and gave Camacho probation. He wound up serving two weeks in jail, though, after violating that probation.
Twice his wife filed domestic abuse complaints against him, and she filed for divorce several years ago.
Associated Press writer Ben Fox contributed to this report.