Sugar Ray Leonard On Spence Eye Injury- “Have To Be Patient”
When the news of Unified World Welterweight Champ Errol Spence being put out of action due to a torn retina in his left eye, the immediate thought was to legendary Welterweight Sugar Ray Leonard and the same situation for him in 1982. And, the Hall of Famer also thought of the comparison to his situation then, to the unbeaten Spence’s, now.
Leonard talked about the Spence injury, plus, his own trials and issues with retina surgery with boxing insider Steve Kim on SNAC.com Monday,
Ray Leonard Envisions Spence's Return to the Ring https://t.co/puEBWWLtnJ
— Steve Kim (@SteveKim323) August 16, 2021
From Kim’s item: Leonard was understanding of the whole situation,
“I naturally felt bad for him,” Leonard told SNAC.com, as he heard the news. “It hit home because again, I had that too. But now because of medical technology, where we are today with medicine, treatment of injuries and things of that nature, I’m optimistic he’s going to be OK.”
At the time of his ailment, the 25 year old Leonard was at the top of his game. Having beaten Thomas Hearns in a classic battle in September of 1981, and then taking care of Bruce Finch in three rounds the following February.
Leonard recalled, “The only thing I felt, I’d get hit in the eye and it swells, then all of a sudden it felt like a shade. It felt like a little shade opens in your eye — you don’t completely see the full picture. It looked like my eye was swollen, well… it felt like my eye was swollen because my vision at that time was getting worse because that curtain was coming down….
“I didn’t even know what (the doctor) was talking about. He said, ‘You have a detached retina.’ I said, ‘OK’. We thought we could come after the fight. Seriously,” said Leonard, who was told by the world renown surgeon Ronald G. Michels that holding off this surgery for another week could lead to blindness.
“I’ll do it tomorrow,” was Leonard’s quick reply.
Instead, Leonard did have the surgery, immediately and it sidelined him for over two years. He had another non-title fight in 1984 and suffered being knocked down by virtual unknown Kevin Howard before eventually stopping him. That led Leonard to re-tire for three more years and do boxing commentary for HBO and CBS Sports.
Eventually, he did comeback from everything, including the eye surgery, and pulled one of the great upsets in boxing history, as he dethroned the seemingly unbeatable Middleweight champ, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, in 1987.
As for Spence, he’s already survived a horrific October 2019 one-car crash in the middle of the night in Dallas with only a concussion and hairline fracture of his jaw. Spence returned to the ring for a solid 12 round win over Danny Garcia last December and was eager to get the biggest notoriety and payday of his career to fight Manny Pacquiao this Saturday night in Las Vegas.
That is until the torn retina was discovered by Nevada doctors in the pre-fight exams last week.
And, this latest setback obviously has people not only wondering when, but even if, Spence will be back from it. Consider, again, Leonard was away for two years from the eye surgery nearly 40 years ago.
But, as Sugar Ray further told Kim,
“Because of the advancement in medical technology, they can do wonders,” said Leonard. “But yeah, you have to be patient.”
Now, we’ll wait to see how patient that Spence will be before trying to return.