Rain was falling lightly outside as Ray Charles Leonard turned the final lap on the beige indoor track at the Buffalo Hilton. It was a few minutes past six on the morning of April 22. During the final five laps of his three-mile run, the welterweight champion of the world whipped his head back and forth every few seconds, as though trying to shake off an annoying thought.
As Leonard came to a halt on one of the six tennis courts inside the one-sixth-mile track, Janks Morton, his trainer, studied him without expression. In 22 days and for a purse of $3 million, Leonard was to defend his title against Roger Stafford.
"While I was running I had a floating spot in my left eye," Leonard reported calmly.
Morton thought he was joking. "Let's go," was his only comment.
They walked up a flight of stairs to the top section of the Hilton's sports complex and from there rode an elevator to the sixth floor. Behind them Leonard's sparring partners, who had accompanied him on his run, yawned and shot the breeze.
As they entered Suite 601, where Leonard was staying, he turned and said to Morton, "Janks, I really saw a spot. I want to do something about it now."
Morton's heart skipped a beat, and then another, but years of self-discipline kept him fron showing his alarm. He went to a telephone. Within a few minutes he had the name of a local eye specialist. "I'll have Ollie make an appointment for the first thing this morning," he told Leonard, who nodded.
A few hours later Ollie Dunlop, an old friend and Leonard's administrative assistant, drove the champion to the specialist's office. Following a brief examination, the specialist said, "I don't see any major problem. I'll give you some eye drops and I think you had better have the eye checked again when you get home after the fight."
After returning to the Hilton, Dunlop met Mike Trainer, Leonard's attorney, in a hallway. "Tell me what they said," Trainer said.
Dunlop relayed the doctor's report.