SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The family of Hector (Macho) Camacho tried to decide Wednesday whether he should be removed from life support after a shooting in his Puerto Rican hometown left the former boxing champion clinging to life and his fans mourning the loss of a dynamic and often troubled athlete.
Doctors at the Centro Medico trauma centre in San Juan found that Camacho had irregular and intermittent brain activity late Wednesday, said Dr. Ernesto Torres, the centre's director.
"We can't declare him brain dead," he said. "We're going to ask the people of Puerto Rico to keep praying."
Torres said doctors will conduct additional tests early Thursday but warned the prognosis remains dire.
"The changes have been more negative than positive," he said, adding that Camacho does not have enough blood coursing through his brain.
Doctors initially had said Camacho was in critical, but stable condition and expected to survive after he was shot Tuesday night in the city of Bayamon. But his condition worsened overnight and his heart stopped at one point, Torres said.
The 50-year-old Camacho was shot as he and a friend sat in a Ford Mustang parked outside a bar.
Police spokesman Alex Diaz said officers found nine small bags of cocaine in the friend's pocket, and a 10th bag open inside the car.
Camacho's mother, who flew in Wednesday from New York, will lead the discussion about 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 The Associated Press as he joined friends and family outside the emergency room.
Torres said Camacho's mother, Maria Matias, spent about 20 minutes with her son, one of the most dynamic boxing personalities of his era, and was expected to return for a second visit on Wednesday night.
"His mother came and she is devastated," he said. "She knows the prognosis is not at all favourable."
A godson, Widniel Adorno, said the family has discussed the possibility of organ donation but no final decision has been made.
Camacho's friend, identified as 49-year-old Adrian Mojica Moreno, was killed in the attack. 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.
Camacho has been considered one of the more controversial figures in boxing, but also popular among fans and those who worked in the sport.
-- The Associated Press