MEXICO -- Charismatic former junior featherweight world champion Israel Vazquez is not exactly going through the best time in his life, but he somehow feels happy and thankful. As a result of an accident and some oversights, "Magnifico", the battle-hardened warrior, is set to lose his right eye in the coming months and will be fitted with a prosthetic one.
With no regrets for having chosen a career in boxing and much less for having already made the decision to get his right eye removed, the Mexico City-born idol recommends that future generations should not play the superhero but should go to the doctors at the slightest discomfort. The first report of his decision was revealed by Felipe Bravo from Televisa Deportes.
“The problem obviously arose after the last fight [a KO loss to Rafael Marquez in May 2010, with whom Vazquez had four unforgettable bouts], but I don't want to demonize the sport or the fight, because this was an oversight by a doctor and by myself," said Vazquez. "When they started to perform the surgeries, I didn't take care of myself. They told me I was doing well and I tried to speed up the recovery, but my retina detached. I underwent many surgeries and they tried many methods, one of which was to put silicone in the eye. I assumed the doctors knew what they were doing, and at that moment I didn't recover my vision a hundred percent but I could live my life,” Vazquez recalled.
Vazquez and Marquez fought four times between 2007 and 2010 with each winning two fights, all four at junior featherweight.
“In 2011, I went to Mexico and visited a renowned clinic. They told me it was practically a miracle that I hadn't lost my eye because the eye can't withstand so many surgeries and I had already had six," added Vazquez. "They then told me that I needed a corneal transplant but I left it there. The eye was getting a little smaller but I thought that if I wore contact lenses then nobody would notice. But then, the color of the cornea changed in 2013 and I thought, I need the transplant.”
With the help of the World Boxing Council, Israel was treated in Mexico City by specialists who revealed to him that the silicone that had been used on his eye had hardened. They gave him two options. The first was to wait for the eye to dry out, which could take anything between a year and 10 years, and the other was to remove his eye and fit a prosthetic eye. "Magnifico" took the second option.
“The thing is, I can no longer see with my right eye," said Vazquez. "I am sensitive to light, I can make out silhouettes, but I can hardly see anything at night. I've lived my life with my left eye and I have no problems. So I opted for the prosthetic eye and Mr. (WBC president, Mauricio) Sulaiman has been helping me. Without being sarcastic, I'd prefer to look good with something that doesn't work rather than having something that doesn't work and doesn't make me look good. No date has been set but we'll see when it can be done. I know that psychologically it won't be easy but it's something I'll need to get used to.”
Is there any sense of regret or remorse?
“I don't regret anything," Vazquez said. "If I am reborn, I would be a boxer again. This sport has given me a lot; a lot of people take the time to talk to me and ask about my health and wish me well. If it had just been an ordinary person, maybe it wouldn't have mattered to them. I have no regrets. For me, what happened was an accident. Life has treated me well. It's a matter of getting used to it and ensuring that people don't see this as something that happened because of the sport, but because of an oversight.”
Now that he has made his decision and with this experience, Vazquez calls on boxers to take care of themselves as much as possible. “You feel like a superhero, but I would ask everyone who has fought in some tremendous bouts not to risk so much, to take precautions. I know that when you're fighting you don't think about this, but maybe when you feel pain, discomfort, a headache, a toothache, something, go and see the doctor because prevention is always better. Hopefully my case will serve as an example for many others,” said the 38-year-old from Mexico City who retired in 2010 with a 44-5 record and 32 knockouts.
Despite his current situation, Vazquez feels no regrets at all. “I still have the sporting glory. Regardless of material things, this sport gave me many friends and many people have shown me their support. My family has supported my decision, my wife, my children. I thank God for everything. In the meantime, I'll continue commentating on fights and training kids; I have about 50 in the gym,” he said.