Alfredo Evangelista was given unequivocal clearance yesterday to fight Muhammad Ali on May 16 at the Capital Centre after undergoing a special eye examination by a Maryland State Athletic Commission physician.
The commission arranged for the examination in the Annapolis office of Dr. Irving Ochs who specializes in ophthalmology after the American Broadcasting Company reported from New York on Friday that it had heard the Spanish challenger might have a cataract condition.
Ochs said yesterday after a thorough examination that there is nothing wrong with Evangelista's eyes, except that he is a little far-sighted.
He said there was no evidence whatever of cataracts.
Immediately after the result of the examination there was speculation that the report might have been started by a rival network or promoter, in view of the charges and countercharges of scandals connected with boxing, and most recently, tennis.
"I wondered about the rumor myself," Ochs said in reply to a request for comment.
Asked if cataracts were not usually associated with older persons, Ochs said that was true, except in cases where they might be caused by injury or diseases of the eye.
Otherwise, he said, it would be unusual for a person of Evangelista's age, 22, to have a cataract.
Jack Cohen, executive secretary of the Maryland Commission, said all the boxers on the Capital Center show had been scheduled to undergo prefight physicals on Monday and final physicals on May 15.
When Jeff Ruhe of ABC called Cohen on Friday afternoon to report the potential condition, Cohen said he got permission from commission chairman Chester O'Sullivan and the rest of the commissioners to have Evangelista undergo a special eye examination yesterday.
Cohen said ABC did not know that the eye test was going to be made yesterday. Nor would Cohen say where the examination would be held.
Only an interpreter accompanied Evangelista during the examination.
Afterward, Ochs issued a statement which said, in part, that Evangelista "has no history of eye disease and no complaints referable to his eyes."
Ochs asserted that there was no abnormality of the retina and that the boxer's uncorrected vision was 20-20 in each eye. A split lamp examination showed no abnormality of the cornea of lens in either eye, he added.
Cohen said Evangelista still will undergo the routine prefight physical examinations with the other boxers on Monday.