Sugar Ray Seales, a former middleweight contender, says he was amazed that he was allowed to fight in New York, New Jersey, Nevada, California and several other states.

He fought 2 1/2 years with detached retinas.

While recuperating yesterday from eye surgery in Portland, Ore., he said that he kept fighting because he kept passing state athletic commission physicals he expected to flunk.

"We were so close to getting a shot at the world title, I kept wanting to fight," he said in a TV interview.

Seales, 30, underwent two operations last week to repair damage in both eyes. Doctors said afterward that he should never fight again but that he probably would regain enough sight to drive and read.

Seales, who was the United States' only boxing gold medalist in the 1972 Olympics, says he has no money and that his vision had deteriorated for 1 1/2 years. But he said that, hoping to win the championship, he signed for fights in New Jersey, New York, California and Nevada, among other states.

"I didn't believe they'd pass me (in the physical examination)," he said. "I went to take the chance they would pass me or to give me the final result--to get out of boxing. I knew that it was up to the commission itself to say, 'You can't see nothing; you have to get out.' "

Seales' surgeon said that no one with detached retinas could read an eye chart normally. Commission physicals clearly used "inadequate standards," he said.