Danell Leyva competing despite stitches

Updated: March 1, 2012, 3:36 PM ET
By Bonnie D. Ford | ESPN.com

World parallel bars champion Danell Leyva of Miami will compete in the prestigious AT&T American Cup event at Madison Square Garden on Saturday with dozens of stitches in his face after being bitten by one of his family's dogs 10 days ago.

Leyva's agent, Tara Modlin, told ESPN.com that Leyva, 20, was alone at the family home in Miami on Feb. 20 when their three American Bulldogs began fighting in the yard.

Leyva had been cautioned by his father and coach, Yin Alvarez, not to intervene when he saw the dogs engaging in aggressive play. But Leyva was alarmed at their behavior and tried to break them up by holding one of the dogs.

As another dog lunged at him, the dog Levya was holding turned on him and bit the right side of his face in the ear and jaw area.

The Cuban-born gymnast called 911 and received immediate medical treatment. A plastic surgeon sewed his face back together, and Modlin said Leyva has "two layers of stitches -- between 80 and 100, I don't think he even knows how many."

Leyva, an animal lover who also has a pet tarantula named Rosie, refused to consider euthanizing the dog, saying the incident was his own fault.

Modlin said Leyva wanted to work out the next day, but his father made him take a couple of days off and would not allow him to perform any upside-down moves in his first training session.

However, the agent said Leyva, the 2011 U.S. all-around champion, is in "great shape" and very eager to compete in New York, where he and fellow Olympic hopeful John Orozco will represent the U.S. men.

World all-around gold medalist Jordyn Wieber and floor exercise bronze medalist Alexandra Raisman will compete for the U.S. on the women's side in the elite international event, which includes athletes from Australia, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Romania and Ukraine.

Bonnie D. Ford covers Olympic sports for ESPN.com.

Bonnie D. Ford

Enterprise and Olympic Sports
Bonnie D. Ford is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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