World welterweight boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard was released from Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore yesterday and his doctor expressed optimism that Leonard's left eye will heal completely from recent surgery to reattach the retina.
Leonard, facing an initial recovery period of at least several weeks, was pronounced in "excellent" condition on the eve of his 26th birthday by the ophthalmologist, Dr. Ronald G. Michels, who performed the surgery May 9.
"We are hopeful and optimistic Sugar Ray will achieve a full recovery and have full and normal vision in his eye," said Michels. He would not say definitely whether Leonard will be able safely to resume boxing.
At the time of the operation, doctors said it would take several weeks to tell if the procedure was fully successful and several months more to determine whether Leonard should, if he so desires, return to the ring.
Michels would not say what Leonard's upcoming regimen might be, saying only that the fighter was making good progress for someone who had undergone eye surgery.
Leonard left the hospital's Wilmer Eye Institute at 8 a.m. accompanied by an entourage of family members and security guards.
The operation forced cancellation of Leonard's scheduled title defense against Roger Stafford in Buffalo last Friday night. The day before the surgery, Leonard left his training base in Buffalo and quietly admitted himself to the Baltimore hospital.
A spokesman for Leonard previously said the champion would recuperate at his residence in Mitchellville, near Bowie.
Nursing supervisor Jeri Eichberg told the Associated Press that Leonard's hospital room was constantly guarded by members of Leonard's security contingent. She said they sometimes tried to keep nurses out of the room.