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Referee Kenny Bayless Lays Doubts On Spence’s Cataracts Claims During Interview, Emphasizes Medical Examinations And Check-Ups

Referee Kenny Bayless Lays Doubts On Spence's Cataracts Claims During Interview, Emphasizes Medical Examinations And Check-Ups featured image
Referee Kenny Bayless (M) expanded upon the presence of medical evaluations for fighters' health, specifically in the state of Nevada where he resides and often referees, indirectly debunking the notion that Errol Spence Jr. suffered from cataracts or any injury during his July 29th match against Terence Crawford. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Kenny Bayless inadvertently laid doubts on Errol Spence Jr.’s claims of suffering from injuries prior to facing Terence Crawford during an interview with FightHype. While FightHype seemed adamant in attributing Errol Spence Jr.’s loss to Terence Crawford to anything but a fair contest, Bayless incidentally debunked the notion Spence wasn’t healthy by highlighting the system of medical evaluations that each state athletic commission adopts for professional combat bouts.

Hans Themistode from FightHype addressed important topics such as Tony Weeks’ decision to stop the match between Vergil Ortiz Jr. (20-0, 20 KO’s) and Fredrick Lawson (30-4, 22 KO’s) early, but the conversation eventually focused on the bout between Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KO’s) and Errol Spence Jr. (28-1, 22 KO’s) to seemingly paint a narrative that aims to subtly discredit Crawford’s victory.

Errol Spence [Jr.] just recently came out and said he just underwent a cataracts surgery for like his eyes and things like that,Themistode started. “Does something like that present an issue for Spence going down the line?

There was a fighter back in the 80’s by the name of Sugar Ray Leonard, and Sugar Ray Leonard at one point had issues with one of his eyes,Kenny Bayless responded.

He had surgery on it and then retired, and then after a couple of years he had his eyes checked out and was cleared to fight, and the next fight he took after being cleared was Marvin Hagler. The fight was a split-decision and Sugar Ray Leonard won.

I’m sure that the doctor that cleared him [Sugar Ray Leonard] would not have cleared him if he knew 100% that his eye was going to be okay. And so, he was cleared by the doctor and when fighters get to Nevada, one of the things they do prior to climbing in the ring is they get looked over by our [Nevada State Athletic] commission doctors.

The case pertains to American boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard who suffered from a detached retina in 1982 and led to him being out of the ring for two years prior to facing Kevin Howard in 1984. After another break of roughly three years, Leonard returned against Marvin Hagler to win by split-decision in 1987.

While the interviewer opted not to mention that Errol Spence Jr. recently claimed that he lost to Terence Crawford because of cataracts, Kenny Bayless drove home the point of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) needing to medically clear fighters before sending them in the ring; which heavily puts doubts on Spence’s claims of having suffered from cataracts prior to his July 29th fight against Crawford given he was medically cleared without any issues reported.

As Crawford himself also highlighted, fighters get their eyes checked before they fight, thus if Spence’s claims are true it puts the NSAC in heavy disrepute as they are responsible for hiring/employing the medical professionals that conduct medical evaluations. This potentially can also lead NSAC to being sued to their inability to properly ascertain a fighter’s health and safety.

Alternatively, Spence was disingenuous with his assertions due to the unlikelihood of him being able to pass a medical test while suffering from cataracts; a condition which should be able to be clearly spotted by medical professionals who would have studied and worked in the medical field for at least a decade to qualify for such medical examinations.

Hans Themistode continued with a specific line of questioning revolving around the result of Spence-Crawford, and allude to Spence suffering from health issues as a determinant factor that led to his loss to Crawford.

Have you ever been in a refereed fight where you were just like ‘I thought this was gonna be a good fight but this guy is whooping. This guy’s a lot worse than anyone could’ve imagined’?” Thermistode asked, allegedly referring to the Spence-Crawford bout that occurred last year.

A fight that comes to mind is a fighter by the name of Michael Nunn who fought this kid [Sumbu Kalambay]; they were both undefeated and Michael Nunn knocked him out in the first or second round,” Bayless recalled.

One would not have guessed that; both were undefeated, they had fought tough fights during their careers and then they have one fighter that gets knocked out in the first round. It was kind of a shocker to everyone, but those things happen. I mean… sometimes it takes one shot at the right spot to take a fighter out. As referees, we just got to be prepared and respond in a way that’s fitting and shows safety for the fighters.

To clarify, while Michael Nunn was undefeated when he fought Sumbu Kalambay, Kalambay himself had three losses prior to facing Nunn. However, Kalambay had never lost by way of stoppage/knockout prior to facing Nunn and had been on a nine-match winning streak (during which he also became a world champion and defended his titles several times) before he was knocked out by Nunn in the first round of their match held on March 25th in 1989.

The subtle form of questioning by Themistode to allude to Spence having had complications prior to facing Crawford has allowed referee Kenny Bayless to provide some clarification on the sort of medical evaluations that fighters need t go through. As Bayless stated, it would be highly unlikely for Spence to be cleared to fight if he had the reported injuries that the American fighter claimed as of this year, including a rib injury.

Errol Spence’s declaration of suffering from cataracts and a rib injury prior to Crawford would have put NSAC in quite a bit of trouble due to two separate alleged injuries not being detected. However, as Bayless clarified, there would be no possible manner in which Spence was able to compete if he had those injuries since he was medically cleared; which means that fighters go through the necessary medical evaluations which would have detected at least one of the claimed injuries Spence possessed.

FightHype’s apparent allusions towards Spence suffering from some sort of injury prior to facing Crawford is mired in misinterpreted facts and unsubstantiated claims. Though these medical examinations are common knowledge, there does appear to be a clear attempt from media outlets to deceive the public, and FightHype seems to be contributing to this cause; pinpointing a connection between the company and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) to whom Errol Spence Jr. is signed.