Valley boxing champ nearly loses vision to rare hereditary condition

Known throughout the boxing world for his devastating body shots, Felix Piedra, who's nicknamed 'The Rock,' climbed the ranks to professional with a record of 10 wins, 2 loses and 7 knockouts.

The Mercedes native became more than a local champ from the Barrientes Gym, he became a star online with a YouTube video centered around his rise to success.

The 29-year-old was on his way to the top until an injury ended his career.

His toughest opponent: retinal detachment, a hereditary eye condition diagnosed over the Summer.

Several surgeries have helped to save his eyes.

But medical bills are mounting.

Still, the champ refuses to give up.

He's since redirected his fighter mentality to helping others.

That's why his lifelong friend Rodney Garcia set up a Pay it 4Ward surprise with him at Pappadeaux's restaurant in Pharr.

"It's the Food Patrol guy!" Rodney said while waving down Action 4's Ryan Wolf.

"What if I were to tell you I'm not here to check the kitchen," Ryan responded as part of the set-up.

"Oh no?" Rodney pretended.

"I'm here for somebody named 'The Rock!'" Ryan said next.

"That TMs him," Rodney said while pointing to his friend at the table.

"You look surprised?" Ryan asked while turning to Felix.

"I'm like what's going on here," he said. "Wow!

Ryan asks Rodney to step forward to reveal the Pay it 4Ward surprise.

"You do a phenomenal job in our little community of Mercedes, keeping kids out of trouble," he told Felix "You show them the right path when they very easily can go down the wrong path as well as what you do with the adults by transforming their mind, their bodies. You give them a lot of confidence. So you're a champion in the ring, but I think what you do outside of the ring is a lot more then what you do in the ring. So on behalf of Channel 4 News, I'd just like to Pay it 4Ward."

Karen Gonzalez and Ricardo Filizola with GEF Financial Agency are standing by to award the Pay it 4Ward prize.

"We just want to say you have been amazing representing the Valley through your boxing and more importantly you've been amazing helping the kids," Karen said as a Pay it 4Ward partner. "You are an all-around champion. And because of that we want to help you in your time of need. So on behalf of GEF Financial and Action 4 News, please put out your hand."

As she hands him $400 in cash, people in the restaurant start to applaud.

"Wow!" Felix said with his mouth wide open. "Little did I know... I mean I thought I was coming over here to try out some Pappadeaux's and wow!

An eye injury will keep him out of the ring.

But Felix says he's happier hearing he has a kind heart.

He plans to use his Pay it 4Ward prize to help pay for medical expenses.

Felix joked how his eye condition was good for one thing; it kept the tears from falling out during the recording of his Pay it 4Ward surprise.

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