Keeping ’em Pretty

He’s a fast-talker and a quick wit. If he were a fighter, he’d be nimble on his feet, light, with a surprising jab. He’d have you dancing around the ring trying to keep up. As it is, though, he sits ringside with a black bag at his feet, hoping to see a good fight, hoping to see boxers mix it up, make some contact—but not get seriously hurt—because he’s a doctor. No doctor should hope for blood, right? Still, it’s the nature of the sport. Once in a while, a punch will bust open a fighter’s face and the blood starts running.

That’s when Dr. Jeffrey Roth knows he’ll get called back to the locker room to do some post-fight stitching, a little on-the-scene cosmetic surgery of sorts. He’ll wash out the wound, numb up the area with Lidocaine and start precision sewing.

“You want to close things in layers, so that there’s less tension on top of the wound,” the plastic surgeon explains in his southwest Las Vegas medical office. He’s 45, excitable, eager to talk boxing and flesh wounds. A lifelong fight fan, Roth used to try to sneak into Caesars Palace as a kid to watch Hagler or Leonard. “Kudos to Caesars’ security. They always caught me.”

On the wall in front of him is boxing great Tommy Hearns’ autographed glove. Behind him on the desk is Manny Pacquiao’s.

Roth graduated from Chaparral High, Brandeis University and, in 1992, the University of Nevada School of Medicine. After postgraduate training in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Philadelphia, he found his way back home and established a thriving cosmetic surgery practice—facelifts, tummy tucks, Botox. He had no intention of working on boxers. But he was still a fan, and now he could afford to get a seat instead of getting hauled out by security for trying to sneak in. “I love the fights. I love the sport.”

In 2008, he was at the Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez rematch at Mandalay Bay, and after the fight, he was asked by Top Rank President Todd DuBoef to come back and sew up the winner.

“He had a laceration with a scar from before, and it opened up, and he had a new one. So we had to do both of those,” Roth recalls. He and Pacquiao became fast friends, and Top Rank promotions began turning to Roth for other gashed fighters. Since then, he’s worked Top Rank fights all over the nation, rubbing shoulders ringside with celebrities and politicians, always with his medical bag at his feet.

“In this day and age, with the possibilities of endorsement deals, fighters are much more conscientious about [appearances],” Roth says. “They know they’re going to wind up with scars at some point in their career, but given the opportunity to make it a nicer scar that won’t open up, they’ll take it.”

Roth doesn’t get paid for this—but he does get pretty good seats. He grins about that, perfectly happy with his end of the deal. “It’s the least I can do to go in there and in some way contribute to the sport of boxing. I like to think I have a skill I can contribute, without wearing 10-ounce gloves and crawling into the ring.”

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