LAS VEGAS – Freddie Roach is thankful that a doctor detected the damage done to Errol Spence Jr.’s retina before the unbeaten IBF/WBC welterweight champion stepped into the ring to fight Manny Pacquiao.

And not just for Spence’s sake. Roach realizes that the compassionate Pacquiao would’ve been inconsolable had he permanently damaged Spence’s eye during what was supposed to be a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

“That would’ve absolutely ruined Manny’s career, if he did that to [Spence],” Roach told “Manny is a very sensitive person and I’m glad they caught it before it was too late.”

Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas replaced Spence on less than two weeks’ notice once Spence abruptly withdrew from their fight. Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs) will defend his WBA “super” 147-pound championship against the Philippines’ Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs).

Spence’s injury was diagnosed during an extensive eye exam August 9 in Las Vegas. That test was required by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for licensure.

Spence had surgery to repair his right retina August 11 in Dallas.

Bob Bennett, the executive director of the NSAC, informed’s Mike Coppinger thereafter that Spence suffered a detached retina. Premier Boxing Champions announced last week that Spence sustained a torn retina.

The timetable for Spence’s return is unclear, though the 31-year-old southpaw expects to box again. Doctors haven’t determined exactly when Spence suffered the damage to his eye, either.

“It’s hard to say because did the [damaged] retina come from the bad car accident he was in?,” Roach asked. “Did they miss something, and then all of a sudden he’s sparring with a stablemate, and it shows up? A lot of surgeons are very careful about the retinas because small [tears] can grow very, very quickly. Who knows how big it may have got? It’s very odd that they missed it the first time, possibly, and then this happened in training camp. It’s really hard to guess how it came about.”

The Texas Combative Sports Program medically cleared Spence to fight Danny Garcia on December 5 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. That 12-round, unanimous-decision win marked Spence’s return to the ring nearly 14 months after suffering cuts to his face, damaged teeth and other minor injuries in a one-car accident in October 2019.

In addition to the state of Texas’ testing, Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) underwent an extensive battery of tests at the renowned Cleveland Clinic before he was cleared to fight again after his accident.

As much as Roach still wants Pacquiao to face Spence, he hopes Spence exercises extreme caution before he resumes his career.

“I’m a little disappointed we’re not fighting Spence,” Roach said. “But the thing is, I just hope he’s OK because I did make a comment one day that this car accident stuff might not be over. Like I said, with that car accident, he’s very lucky to be alive. I’m happy that he is, and I hope the eye heals really quick because we would love to fight him. He can be next for sure.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.