By Keith Idec
A serious eye injury has forced veteran middleweight Ossie Duran to withdraw from his televised April 11 fight against undefeated super middleweight prospect Jesse Hart.
A doctor determined Wednesday that Duran has a torn right retina, which will require surgery and is considered career-threatening. The scrapped 10-round bout between Duran, of Paterson, N.J., and Philadelphia’s Hart (12-0, 10 KOs) was to be broadcast by ESPN2 from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Matchmakers for Top Rank Inc., Hart’s promoter, were working Thursday to secure a replacement for Duran (28-11-3, 11 KOs).
“It’s just a shame that this happened now,” Phil Shevack, Duran’s manager and assistant trainer, said Thursday. “He was on a resurgence and he was looking forward to this fight. He wanted this one pretty bad. We’re going to have to postpone his career right now and see what happens. My feeling is they can correct it. The decision ultimately will be his, but my advice would be to not box anymore. He’s 36, but for all practical purposes he’s 37. I would recommend that he terminate his boxing career and concentrate on training young people and pros. He’s an excellent trainer.”
Duran, who’ll turn 37 on April 23, suffered the injury during a 10-round draw Jan. 3 with fringe middleweight contender Caleb Truax (23-1-2, 14 KOs). Duran’s strong performance against Truax in a fight ESPN2 televised from Minneapolis helped rejuvenate Duran’s career following a third-round knockout loss to Russian middleweight Matt Korobov (22-0, 13 KOs) in his previous bout, June 15 in Dallas. The durable Duran would’ve made his super middleweight debut against Hart, the son of former middleweight contender Eugene “Cyclone” Hart.
Duran, who was born and raised in Ghana, is scheduled to visit a retina specialist Friday.
“The first eye doctor we saw Wednesday said there’s a tear, not a detachment, in his right retina,” Shevack said. “Our goal right now is to get it corrected. Then, after that, decisions will be made. But again, my recommendation would be to not fight anymore. Eyes are too important. On my shift, I don’t want to see him ending up with a cane and a seeing eye dog.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.