Joe Soto lost his mother to a road accident on Christmas. He then lost his Bellator featherweight title and unblemished record to Joe Warren at the beginning of September.
Now he’s battling for not only his career, but also his eyesight.
Soto, likely in the fight with Warren, though they’re not certain, suffered a detached retina and was undergoing surgery at the time of publication of this article.
Following the knockout loss to Warren, Soto started to develop black spots before his eyes, smaller at first, but growing larger as the days went by, according to his manager, Tom Call. Luckily, his fight team’s doctor, Gary Furness, immediately pressed him to go see a specialist.
That he did on Wednesday, and less than 24 hours later, on Thursday morning, Soto was rushed into surgery to repair a severely detached retina.
Sounds simple enough, but it’s not.
Doctors warned that Soto would likely have to sit on the sidelines for roughly a year after this initial surgery and then be faced with a follow-up procedure due to the severity of his injury. Following the second surgery, there is a window of recovery of about six months, then he’ll know whether or not he can continue fighting or not.
That is the scenario that Soto has been dealt.
Before the loss to Warren, Soto had gone on a tear up the ranks, amassing a 9-0 professional record, finishing every one of his opponents, and capturing the first-ever Bellator featherweight championship.
Now he’s fighting to save his vision.
“The focus right now has just been on saving his vision and following the process,” Call told MMAWeekly.com on Thursday. “Then eventually we’ll get to the point where some decisions will have to be made regarding his future, but he hasn’t even had time to think about that right now.”
Soto went from an appointment with a specialist at 2 p.m. on Wednesday to rushing into surgery by about 11 a.m. Thursday. It’s the latest in a chain of events that have tested the 23-year-old’s resolve.
“His mom died at Christmas, then he lost to Warren, and now this,” said Call.
“It’s been a rough year to say the least.”