By Charles Jay
By now you have heard that a ringside photographer named Al Bello was beaten and kicked around by representatives of Manny Pacquiao because he had the audacity to take pictures of Pacquiao flat on his face on the canvas after being knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez.
According to Pacquiao, Marquez landed a “lucky” punch, but it may be a lot more accurate to say that PacMan’s luck kind of ran out. That may yet happen to an assistant trainer named Buboy Fernandez, who was one of the people who engaged in attacking the media member.
Photo: Chris Farina/ Top Rank
As for Michael Koncz, a Pacquiao “adviser,” he seemed to “misunderstand” that he couldn’t just go into the ring and kick folks around, just because he didn’t like what they were doing.
Yeah, honest mistake.
It’s been written that Freddie Roach told the photographer in question not to take pictures of the fallen Pacquiao. With all due respect to Freddie Roach, he doesn’t have a damn thing to say about it. This photographer was documenting a news event – period. No one is in a position to tell him he can’t take a photo. Sorry, you’re in a boxing ring. You took the purse and agreed to everything that came along with it. You have more or less given yourself over to the event.
Someone who has been properly credentialed, as Bello was, has a right to do his job and document whatever happens in whatever way he has been authorized to do so. Nowhere has there ever been a condition put on that where the guy can’t take a picture of someone who’s been knocked out. What do these guys think – that they can command a photographer to document only their glorious moments? Nope, this is about the “good, bad and ugly,” and participants have to accept it as part of the territory, WHETHER THEY LIKE IT OR NOT.
It is understandable that these guys got emotional in the heat of the moment. They were looking at something that probably never happened to their man before, at least not while they were around. They apparently realize that their emotions got the better of them. But that doesn’t change the fact that they committed an unspeakable act.
Bello was interested in an apology, at first. But as far as we could ascertain, while Fernandez had indeed offered his sincere regrets (Koncz called it a “misunderstanding”), nothing was directed personally to the guy who was the subject of their vicious attack, only through intermediaries. So there may have been a bit of an insult there. And Getty Images, who Bello was working on behalf of, sent a letter to the Nevada boxing authorities imploring them to suspend the two men, along with Pacquiao himself.
There is a Nevada Athletic Commission meeting at 8:30 AM PT on Thursday, but this will not be on the agenda, according to Keith Kizer, the executive director of the NAC. That is not to say the incident isn’t under review, however, with the possibility of some disciplinary action if the NAC deems it necessary.
A suspension for Pacquiao would seem far flung, since you can’t hold someone morally responsible for something that happened while they were unconscious.
As for Fernandez, his license (as a second) could be in jeopardy, and Kizer would have some latitude on this issue.
According to Chapter 467, Paragraph 885 in the Nevada rules for Unarmed Combat,
“The Commission may suspend or revoke the license of, otherwise discipline or take any combination of such actions against a licensee who has, in the judgment of the Commission……
5. Conducted himself or herself at any time or place in a manner which is deemed by the Commission to reflect discredit to unarmed combat.”
With Koncz it may be a slightly different story because he is not licensed for anything. As someone who is termed as an “adviser,” he is one of those people who exists in a grey area of boxing, functioning in a particular role without having to be subject to licensing or regulation. It stands to reason that if you don’t have a license, it can’t be suspended for something. We couldn’t get a clear answer from the commission as to what could conceivably be done to him, although we imagine he could be barred from venues, official fight activities and such.
The letter from Getty Images might have made it a more inflammatory situation, but an inflammatory situation is what it should be.
What would happen to any of us if we had committed an act of assault on the grounds of the MGM Grand? Well, we’d be thrown off the property, likely banned, and perhaps even arrested for it. If the pictures of this incident are any indication, these guys committed assault and battery, and could be charged with a criminal offense.
There could also be lawsuits, and here is where Pacquiao, who didn’t see any of this, could still experience some legal exposure. Koncz asserts that he is partners with Pacquiao in MP Promotions, which is also a partner of sorts in the promotions with Top Rank (and, we might add, another unlicensed entity), so if you are going to sue Koncz or the promotion, that is something that could possibly touch MP Promotions and Pacquiao in some way.
And if you have ever covered one of these big fights in Nevada, the venue itself often takes a great proprietary interest in press access, which is an outgrowth of their own routine concerns about security. Well, there wasn’t enough security to prevent Al Bello from being assaulted, or the security that was available was inadequate to perform the task, and that would leave the MGM Grand exposed to legal action as well.
All of them would deserve it.
This sport is replete with people who are not very accomplished on their own, but rationalize that they inherit or even embody the importance of their “master.” This could be such a case. And if it is, it should be kept in mind that people like that tend to get arrogant, brazen, full of themselves and ready to exercise a perverse sense of entitlement through intimidation if they can possibly get away with it.
It is vitally important that they find out they can’t. But they need to find that out from all sides; not just one.