Hector Camacho parried and retreated with the poise of a matador while Ray Mancini charged like a bull, but it was the toreador's victory as Camacho spoiled Mancini's return to the ring with a 12-round split decision.
"I could have stood there slugging, but I beat him to the punch," Camacho said after Monday's victory. "I sharpshooted him and he didn't sharpshoot me."Mancini was clearly stunned by the defeat despite his four-year ring layoff. "In my heart, I won that fight. I went out and I performed like I wanted to," he said.
Mancini said he would take a vacation and talk with his family before he decides whether to continue his boxing career. "It wasn't pretty by any means," he said. "I just had to get the fight done. I've been out of the ring for a long time."
Camacho did much of his scoring with a busy left jab that puffed the corner of Mancini's left eye in the first round and opened small cuts beside both eyes in the late rounds.
Mancini was the lunging aggressor, but many of his punches missed or glanced off the mobile Camacho. Both fighters appeared tired toward the end of the fight, but despite absorbing some powerful blows, Camacho was unmarked.
"I lost my concentration, but did not lose my composure" after one brief Mancini body attack, Camacho said.
Judges Doug Tucker of Carson City, Nev., and Chuck Giampi of Las Vegas both had Camacho a 115-113 winner, while judge Keith MacDonald of Carson City had Mancini winning 116-112.