That Errol Spence Jr. had a retinal tear in his left eye came as much of a surprise to Derrick James, Spence’s trainer, as it did to anyone Monday afternoon when Team Spence first found out about it after a pre-fight medical exam.
Spence (27-0, 21 knockouts) was supposed to fight future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) for The Ring welterweight world championship next Saturday, August 21, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Spence, The Ring’s No. 1-rated welterweight and IBF and WBC titlist, will be replaced by The Ring’s No. 5 welterweight contender and WBA titleholder Yordenis Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs).
Spence is scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday.
“Errol is okay, and I’m not a medical professional so I don’t know when exactly he’ll be able to come back, but he will be back,” James said. “Fighters have detached retinas often and come back all of the time. We don’t know how it happened and we don’t know when it happened.
“I just found out yesterday when we were in Las Vegas, where we were training. They found something on his exam. Errol never complained about it. It’s something (that was reported to the Nevada State Athletic Commission) during the licensing (exam).
“Like I said, I didn’t find out until Monday afternoon. Errol told me. That’s when I was told. I was at the hotel when I got the call. We don’t know anything about a specific time of recovery.
“This is a very unfortunate situation and it could have been anything that came up. It’s the first time something like this came up with us. We’ll move on and we’ll keep on pushing. I don’t like interjecting my personal feelings into Errol’s career, but if he wants one more fight before the end of the year, I want him to have one more fight before the end of the year.
“Either way, Errol Spence will be back.”
Spence discovered that he had a torn retina during a pre-fight medical examination by one of Spence’s doctors for the Nevada State Athletic Commission in Las Vegas on Monday.
Spence and his team flew back home to Dallas, Texas, on Tuesday morning. He will undergo surgery to repair the tear on Wednesday. Spence is expected to make a full recovery and return to the ring.
According to most medical practices, it takes two to four weeks to recover before returning to your normal activities from retinal tear surgery.
“I can’t comment on a fighter’s medical records, but there is no doubt Ugas stepping in to fight Manny is more than an approved fight,” said Bob Bennett, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. “Ugas is a formidable, quality fighter for the championship. I got approval from (Nevada State Athletic Commission) chairman Stephen Cloobeck.
“We discussed it and we’ve approved the fight.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.
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