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The Whole Tooth and Nothing But ...

By Ed de la Vega, DDS

Tue, 23 May 2006

As soon as Marisela, one of the members of my staff came in to work the Monday following the Friday WBC title fight between Marco Antonio Barrera and Ricardo Juarez, she came to me and said: "Hey Doc, did you see that?" I thought she was referring to the knockout victory of Rey Boom Boom Bautista over Chucky Bonilla. So I ask her if she enjoyed the short three round fight of Boom Boom. Marisela incidentally has met Rey personally as she assisted me when we took impression of his dentition at my office in Canoga Park, California to fabricate a custom fitted mouth guard for him and the rest of the ALA boys.

"No, no", she said. "I was referring to the many times Barrera lost his mouth guard during the duration of the fight".

Having seen the fight personally at the Staples Center and the replay of the fight video on different web sites, particularly those posted on Pacland, I knew exactly what she was referring to.

To many fight fans, the number of times Barrera lost his mouth guard during the fight, and the few seconds it took the referee to stop the fight, pick it up, bring it to Barrera's corner to be washed and then placed back in the mouth of Barrera, and re-start the fight, may be insignificant. That seems to be common scene in boxing. In fact, I was told by some very reliable sources, in certain instances, fighters deliberately spit out their mouth guards just so to gain few precious seconds to recover.

If Barrera, indeed deliberately spit out his mouth guard at the heat of the exchanges with Juarez, particularly in the 6th and 7th rounds, in order to recover, I dare say: "Shame on him". I wonder what will he do if and when Pacquiao fights him again?

For a fighter of his status, he should not be doing that. However, if indeed, he lost it after being hit with a barrage of punches, it should not have happened.

I can not completely fault Barrera himself for the many times he lost his mouth guard. Maybe, he was reeling from the Juarez attack that he needed to have a few precious seconds to recover. But, that is cheating! Or is it called "survival mode"? Whatever, it is, if that indeed was the case, I say again: "Shame on him. He should know better!"

On the other hand, if he lost his mouth guard because it was not properly fitted by an experienced professional in the dental field, then I say: "Shame on his handlers!" The managers, the trainers and who ever is involved in his daily training regimen. These people should have known better! Or do they really care?

Training boxers and preparing them for a fight is not limited to the road work, the gym work, nutritional and psychological counseling and the development of a game plan(s) for the evening against an specific foe. It also involves doing all the necessary preparations to safeguard the health and well being of the boxers. That includes a custom fitted mouth guard that should not come off during the heat of the battle.

If Barrera's mouth guard came off because it was not fitted well, then its about time his handlers do something about it because it may well lead to oro-facial injuries or worst, the debilitating effects of a concussion.

About the Author.
Dr. Ed de la Vega is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. He is a Fellow of the American College of Dentists, International College of Dentists, Academy of General Dentistry and the Academy of Dentistry International. He is also a former Member of the California State Board of Dental Examiners and a Past President of the Los Angeles Dental Society and the Southern California Filipino Dental Society. He has been in practice in California since 1971.

Publisher's Notes: would like to welcome Dr. Ed de la Vega to the family as a columnist and, having taken up photography as a hobby recently, as a photographer who will cover important boxing events featuring Filipino fighters in the United States.

Dr. de la Vega has offered to make a custom made mouth guard free of charge to every Filipino boxer who get booked to fight in the U.S. particulary those whose fights are close to Los Angeles area. Doc Ed can be reached at (818) 348-8713.

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