Boxing’s violent. That’s pretty much the point of boxing – organized violence. Oftentimes, it’s so violent that someone gets knocked down and can’t get back up for a considerable length of time, resulting in victory for the other fighter. These instances are, in fact, so common and woven into the fabric of the sport that they are an official statistic listed in every boxer’s record. Wins-losses-draws-knockouts. That’s the quickest way to measure a boxer.
And photographers – they take photographs. It’s right there in the name of the job and everything. Sometimes, these photograph-taking photographers attend boxing matches, where it is then their job to take photographs of that very boxing match. And given that so many matches end in knockouts, part of this photographer’s job will therefore be to take photographs of the knocked-out fighter, perhaps even as the fighter is lying on the canvas, still knocked out. Some of the most famous photos in boxing history have documented this, in fact.
“Well, of course I know all that,” you say. “Everyone knows that. There’s no need to explain such simple concepts. Give me a little credit here; I’m not five years old.” And I’d agree with you – except that these concepts have apparently eluded no less than the support team of superstar boxer Manny Pacquiao. “But wouldn’t a boxer’s entourage be especially aware of something everyone clearly knows?” you ask. Well, you’d think so, but consider what Al Bello, a photographer for Getty Images, said happened to him as he took photographs of a knocked-out Pacquiao – i.e. did his damn job – over the weekend:
Bello said Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz and assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez were punching and kicking at Bello as he was trying to photograph Pacquiao, who was face first down on the mat.
Bello jumped off the apron in an effort to avoid confrontation with the men.
“Whoa, pretty serious accusation,” you say. “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, here you go (note: all photos by Chris Cozzone):
What’s that? You’d like to see Fernandez actually climbing through the ropes to try and intimidate Bello? As it happens, Cozzone’s got you covered there, too:
Koncz told Yahoo that what happened was a “miss understanding [sic],” and “not an assault.” Hell of a miss understanding – both for the extent of what they did (which sure looks to my eyes like assaulting Bello), and the fact that what they miss understood was a goddamn photographer taking goddamn photographs. But maybe we should all cut Team Pacquiao some slack: like Koncz said, this all happened “in the heat of the moment.” And when things get stressful, who among us hasn’t started grabbing and kicking at people who aren’t doing anything to us? Chalk this one up to ol’ human nature.