World Boxing Association

16 Feb 19
SCNG
At his unremarkable office on Roscoe Boulevard, Dr. Ed de la Vega spends most days filling cavities and performing root canals. By the looks of the slight, graying man in spectacles and a white lab coat, one mightn’t guess he’s something of a celebrity. That is, in the Filipino boxing world. At 77, de la Vega spent a recent Saturday night wiping sweat and applying Vaseline to the brow of young Filipino boxer Genisis Libranza at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. He was performing his duties as cutman, trusted administrator of immediate first aid to a tiring boxer in the ring. Swiftly ducking under the rope, he lobbed a bag of ice onto Lebranza’s shoulders and surveyed for facial cuts all in a practiced 60-second swoop. He performs it in cities from LA to Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. Ever since Filipino boxing champion-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao began exclusively wearing Dr. de la Vega’s handiwork in the early 2000’s – colorful, sometimes artfully decorated mouth guards that range from free to $500 a pop – the Valley dentist’s services became sought after by boxers near and mostly far. Pacquiao even recruited the dentist to be his cutman in July 2018, for a fight for the World Boxing Association welterweight crown against Argentine champion Lucas Matthysse. #gallery-1617090-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1617090-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-1617090-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1617090-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Dr. Ed de la Vega holds a custom mouthguard made for Brian Viloria at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega in front of photos of fighters at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) A mouthguard once used by Manny Pacquiao made by Dr. Ed de la Vega at de la Vega’s Canoga Park dentist office. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Manny Pacquiao celebrates his win against Adrien Broner in the WBA welterweight title boxing match Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) As an immigrant to the U.S. from the Philippines, De la Vega sees his work for young boxers, many of them Filipino, through the lens of his own story “making it in America.” It’s his passion and personal commitment to fighters, boxers say, that keeps a Canoga Park dentist in their corner with his pieces of plastic in their mouth as they travel the globe. Dr. de la Vega arrived with his wife to Southern California in 1967 seeking more sunshine after a grad school bout in Montreal. Like many other immigrant dentists, his degree wasn’t recognized by the state – a significant setback for most. With the help of a wealthy uncle, he returned to USC dental school before opening a practice on Wilshire Boulevard, knocking on doors in search of new patients. He successfully lobbied then-governor Reagan to sign into a law a measure recognizing the degrees of foreign dentists and launched a small foundation providing free dental services to poverty-stricken areas of the Philippines. What brought him to the Valley were the 1992 Rodney King riots, when his city office burned to the ground. Yet it wasn’t until 1999 that his penchant for watching boxing, a sport whose popularity in the Philippines he likens to football in America, turned into an opportunity. Word got out that up-and-coming boxer Manny Pacquiao, who had begun fighting in the U.S., was looking for some mouth protection by a Filipino dentist. Mouth guards are required under international boxing regulations, and professional fighters often purchase custom-made pieces. As a young dentist, de la Vega took an interest in traumatic injuries, and was making mouth guards for high school athletes in the Valley. “He didn’t have a choice,” said de la Vega in his office last week. “Because I was the only guy here making mouth guards who’s also Filipino dentist.” From there, a little marketing and word of mouth went a long way. Professional fighters the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Jerwin Ancajas, Donnie Nietes, Fernando Vargas, Mia St. John and others from countries as far as Ukraine and Israel have since stepped through his door. “I started making a big deal of it and fortunately he became famous. So now all the boxers call me saying they want a Pacquiao mouth guard,” said the dentist most clients call “Dr. Ed”. Fighters from the Philippines get mouth guards from de la Vega for free. He said he tends to waive the fee for other young athletes he knows could use the break as well. “It’s my way of helping them succeed. Even Pacquiao, I don’t charge for his mouth guards.” Yet Pacquiao, who de la Vega said tends to superstitiously overuse mouth guards with which he’s won fights in and discard the losing ones, pays his cutmen plenty. The pieces of polyvinyl acetate, multicolored and sometimes detailed with art or decal images like of the Philippines House of Representatives legislature for Senator Pacquiao, are fashioned in his office out of patients’ personal impressions. Depending on professional level or past injuries, the guard is fortified with extra material in front of the teeth. De la Vega argues an ill-fitted mouth guard could lead to injuries from a chipped tooth to broken jaw. “The secret to good mouth guards is how they are fitted in the mouth,” he said. If the piece properly latches into the grooves between gum and teeth, it won’t come out during combat. “With mine, if someone hits you hard, you might fall but there won’t be any damage.” Athletic dental experts like Dr. Ray Padilla, a team dentist at UCLA under whom de la Vega studied, argues that mouth guards are actually pretty standard across all sports. “It’s not difficult to make these mouth guards,” he said. “They’re just not that special.” Yet what does appear unique is the reciprocal loyalty amongst de la Vega and his fighters. The hallway of his office is lined upward of 100 photos of men and women flashing their brightly colored mouth pieces with fists in the air. One of the best known athletes in the bunch is Karlos Balderas, 22, from Santa Maria, who went on to box for the USA team in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He and his brother first sought out de la Vega when they were 8 years old. In the stands watching fights Saturday, Balderas said he’s made an effort to keep around the people who stuck with him at the beginning, like “Dr. Ed”. “Human parasites have tried to come around us because we’re doing good,” he said. “There are plenty other guys who do mouthpieces for this guy or that fighter … but when you’ve grown with somebody they learn to grow with you. We’ve had other cutmen and they’re just not the same.” Balderas sports an almost gleaming set of choppers, lumineers he purchased himself years after his brother won a coin toss to get braces when their family could only afford one set. The two jumped from one home to another growing up as their parents spent time in prison. “All my life I grew up with nobody, all I had was my brother,” he added. “Now I have an army.” Boxing, echoed Filipino fighter Libranza’s assistant coach Ting Ariosa, is about who you put in your corner. “We all know how to do things like treat cuts and wounds and control swelling. And there are other people out there who can make mouth pieces. But being Dr. Ed and Filipino, we sort of prioritize each other.” “If there’s a little cut or wound he knows what to do … but expertise and friendship are both very important to us.” De la Vega’s next gig? Working as a cutman for Filipino superflyweight champion Donnie Nietes, which could take him anywhere from the Phillipines to Las Vegas. The 77-year-old says he’s got another 10 years in him. “All my contemporaries are retired, but I can’t quit,” said de la Vega, lamenting boxing’s lack of popularity in Southern California. “It’s mostly a sport for the poor. It’s for the guy who’s nobody, like Pacquiao, who used to live in the streets and sell bananas and donuts, and now he’s a billionaire. I do it for those kind of stories … and the satisfaction of being able to help someone succeed.”
16 Feb 19
Daily News
At his unremarkable office on Roscoe Boulevard, Dr. Ed de la Vega spends most days filling cavities and performing root canals. By the looks of the slight, graying man in spectacles and a white lab coat, one mightn’t guess he’s something of a celebrity. That is, in the Filipino boxing world. At 77, de la Vega spent a recent Saturday night wiping sweat and applying Vaseline to the brow of young Filipino boxer Genisis Libranza at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. He was performing his duties as cutman, trusted administrator of immediate first aid to a tiring boxer in the ring. Swiftly ducking under the rope, he lobbed a bag of ice onto Lebranza’s shoulders and surveyed for facial cuts all in a practiced 60-second swoop. He performs it in cities from LA to Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. Ever since Filipino boxing champion-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao began exclusively wearing Dr. de la Vega’s handiwork in the early 2000’s – colorful, sometimes artfully decorated mouth guards that range from free to $500 a pop – the Valley dentist’s services became sought after by boxers near and mostly far. Pacquiao even recruited the dentist to be his cutman in July 2018, for a fight for the World Boxing Association welterweight crown against Argentine champion Lucas Matthysse. #gallery-3038110-2 { margin: auto; } #gallery-3038110-2 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-3038110-2 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-3038110-2 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Dr. Ed de la Vega holds a custom mouthguard made for Brian Viloria at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega in front of photos of fighters at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) A mouthguard once used by Manny Pacquiao made by Dr. Ed de la Vega at de la Vega’s Canoga Park dentist office. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Dr. Ed de la Vega at his Canoga Park dentist office. De la Vega makes custom mouthguards for fighters including Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) Manny Pacquiao celebrates his win against Adrien Broner in the WBA welterweight title boxing match Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) As an immigrant to the U.S. from the Philippines, De la Vega sees his work for young boxers, many of them Filipino, through the lens of his own story “making it in America.” It’s his passion and personal commitment to fighters, boxers say, that keeps a Canoga Park dentist in their corner with his pieces of plastic in their mouth as they travel the globe. Dr. de la Vega arrived with his wife to Southern California in 1967 seeking more sunshine after a grad school bout in Montreal. Like many other immigrant dentists, his degree wasn’t recognized by the state – a significant setback for most. With the help of a wealthy uncle, he returned to USC dental school before opening a practice on Wilshire Boulevard, knocking on doors in search of new patients. He successfully lobbied then-governor Reagan to sign into a law a measure recognizing the degrees of foreign dentists and launched a small foundation providing free dental services to poverty-stricken areas of the Philippines. What brought him to the Valley were the 1992 Rodney King riots, when his city office burned to the ground. Yet it wasn’t until 1999 that his penchant for watching boxing, a sport whose popularity in the Philippines he likens to football in America, turned into an opportunity. Word got out that up-and-coming boxer Manny Pacquiao, who had begun fighting in the U.S., was looking for some mouth protection by a Filipino dentist. Mouth guards are required under international boxing regulations, and professional fighters often purchase custom-made pieces. As a young dentist, de la Vega took an interest in traumatic injuries, and was making mouth guards for high school athletes in the Valley. “He didn’t have a choice,” said de la Vega in his office last week. “Because I was the only guy here making mouth guards who’s also Filipino dentist.” From there, a little marketing and word of mouth went a long way. Professional fighters the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Jerwin Ancajas, Donnie Nietes, Fernando Vargas, Mia St. John and others from countries as far as Ukraine and Israel have since stepped through his door. “I started making a big deal of it and fortunately he became famous. So now all the boxers call me saying they want a Pacquiao mouth guard,” said the dentist most clients call “Dr. Ed”. Fighters from the Philippines get mouth guards from de la Vega for free. He said he tends to waive the fee for other young athletes he knows could use the break as well. “It’s my way of helping them succeed. Even Pacquiao, I don’t charge for his mouth guards.” Yet Pacquiao, who de la Vega said tends to superstitiously overuse mouth guards with which he’s won fights in and discard the losing ones, pays his cutmen plenty. The pieces of polyvinyl acetate, multicolored and sometimes detailed with art or decal images like of the Philippines House of Representatives legislature for Senator Pacquiao, are fashioned in his office out of patients’ personal impressions. Depending on professional level or past injuries, the guard is fortified with extra material in front of the teeth. De la Vega argues an ill-fitted mouth guard could lead to injuries from a chipped tooth to broken jaw. “The secret to good mouth guards is how they are fitted in the mouth,” he said. If the piece properly latches into the grooves between gum and teeth, it won’t come out during combat. “With mine, if someone hits you hard, you might fall but there won’t be any damage.” Athletic dental experts like Dr. Ray Padilla, a team dentist at UCLA under whom de la Vega studied, argues that mouth guards are actually pretty standard across all sports. “It’s not difficult to make these mouth guards,” he said. “They’re just not that special.” Yet what does appear unique is the reciprocal loyalty amongst de la Vega and his fighters. The hallway of his office is lined upward of 100 photos of men and women flashing their brightly colored mouth pieces with fists in the air. One of the best known athletes in the bunch is Karlos Balderas, 22, from Santa Maria, who went on to box for the USA team in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He and his brother first sought out de la Vega when they were 8 years old. In the stands watching fights Saturday, Balderas said he’s made an effort to keep around the people who stuck with him at the beginning, like “Dr. Ed”. “Human parasites have tried to come around us because we’re doing good,” he said. “There are plenty other guys who do mouthpieces for this guy or that fighter … but when you’ve grown with somebody they learn to grow with you. We’ve had other cutmen and they’re just not the same.” Balderas sports an almost gleaming set of choppers, lumineers he purchased himself years after his brother won a coin toss to get braces when their family could only afford one set. The two jumped from one home to another growing up as their parents spent time in prison. “All my life I grew up with nobody, all I had was my brother,” he added. “Now I have an army.” Boxing, echoed Filipino fighter Libranza’s assistant coach Ting Ariosa, is about who you put in your corner. “We all know how to do things like treat cuts and wounds and control swelling. And there are other people out there who can make mouth pieces. But being Dr. Ed and Filipino, we sort of prioritize each other.” “If there’s a little cut or wound he knows what to do … but expertise and friendship are both very important to us.” De la Vega’s next gig? Working as a cutman for Filipino superflyweight champion Donnie Nietes, which could take him anywhere from the Phillipines to Las Vegas. The 77-year-old says he’s got another 10 years in him. “All my contemporaries are retired, but I can’t quit,” said de la Vega, lamenting boxing’s lack of popularity in Southern California. “It’s mostly a sport for the poor. It’s for the guy who’s nobody, like Pacquiao, who used to live in the streets and sell bananas and donuts, and now he’s a billionaire. I do it for those kind of stories … and the satisfaction of being able to help someone succeed.”
16 Feb 19
UltraSports.TV

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16 Feb 19
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Take the Big Bag

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ANTHONY JOSHUA will fight unfancied American Jarrell Miller next – and…

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