Getty Images is requesting that Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer take disciplinary action against Manny Pacquiao, advisor Michael Koncz and the fighter’s longtime friend and assistant trainer Restituto “BuBoy” Fernandez after Koncz and Fernandez allegedly assaulted Getty photographer Al Bello during the chaotic aftermath of the Pacquiao’s knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Lizanne Vaughan, an attorney representing Getty, wrote in an email obtained by RingTV.com that “members of Mr. Pacquiao’s entourage attacked our staff photographer, Al Bello, without provocation.” She further stated that “Michael Koncz and Buboy Fernandez, punched, kicked, grabbed and then chased Mr. Bello.”
“While there are inherent risks in this line of work, the assault by participants at this event is not one of them. We expect that you will take all appropriate actions against Mr. Pacquiao and his entourage, and expect that such will include a significant suspension period.”
Bello was taking photos of Pacquiao, who was knocked cold and in a prone position, when he was allegedly attacked by Koncz and Fernandez.
“Had I not gotten off the ring,” said Bello, who jumped off the apron to avoid the confrontation with the men, according to Yahoo! Sports, “I have no doubt the two of them would have beaten the [expletive] out of me and I might have been seriously hurt.”
Bello did not contact police, according to a Yahoo! Sports story, and simply wanted an apology from Koncz and Fernandez.
In a report by RingTV.com, Koncz called the development “a misunderstanding,” adding, “if it was construed any other way, then he has my sincerest apology.”
Koncz told RingTV.com that he and Fernandez were acting “in the heat of concern for Manny’s health and safety at that moment,” describing their actions as “a misunderstanding between the cameraman, myself and Buboy.”
Fernandez has issued a public apology, according to Philboxing.com. He sent an email to a reporter who works for the boxing website. It reads:
“I just want to reach out to the guy and say I am truly sorry but I do not know how to reach him. It finally dawn to me that you can help me by putting up an article stating that I wanted to apologize. Please tell him I am truly sorry.
“I think I reacted that way because I was confused and did not know how to react after seeing for the first time my best friend and benefactor flat out on the canvas and not moving at all. You know how much he means to me as I owe him my life and everything I have. I will do anything to protect him.
“I wanted to get close to him and help but rules prevented me from doing so. I felt helpless and I my pent up emotions just build up. Perhaps that’s why I behaved like I did. I hope issuing a public apology through PhilBoxing will clear out the air. But if I need to write a formal letter I will do so. However you need to help me write that as I am not proficient in English.”
Attached to Vauhan’s e-mail is “a full photographic chronology of these events provided to us by the photographers, Chris Cozzone and Gene Blevins.”
Bello referred questions to Getty Images publicist Jodi Einhorn.
“Getty Images takes the safety of our photographers and the important work that they do very seriously,” read an e-mail from Einhorn to RingTV.com in reaction to Koncz’s comments.
“Al Bello is an award winning photojournalist who was doing his job capturing the Pacquiao vs. Marquez fight. The attack on him was in violation of the NSAC rules and in a manner inconsistent with the conduct of boxing professionals and their entourages photographed by Al for years.”
Although Kizer could not be reached for an immediate comment, he informed RingTV.com in an earlier interview that Koncz and Fernandez could face disciplinary action, which could take the forms of a fine, a suspension or a combination of both.
Marquez (55-6-1, 40 knockouts), who turned 39 in August, had battled to a draw and lost by split- and majority decisions to Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) before Saturday.
To see pages containing the entire sequence of photos, click the thumbnails below (these are large images and may need time to load):
Below is the e-mail from Vaughan, also intended for commission chairman Skip Avasino, in its entirety.
Dear Mssrs. Avansino and Kizer,
I write to raise our concerns regarding the incident that occurred on Saturday, December 8 at the MGM Grand Garden in the immediate aftermath of Manny Pacquiao’s knockout. I believe you are aware that members of Mr. Pacquiao’s entourage attacked our staff photographer, Al Bello, without provocation. Mr. Bello was on the apron shooting the fighters. He was credentialed to be there and, indeed, has photographed Mr. Pacquiao numerous times previously without incident. In this instance, in violation of the licenses granted to participants and managers by the NSAC, members of Pacquiao’s, entourage, including Michael Koncz and Buboy Fernandez, punched, kicked, grabbed and then chased Mr. Bello. Attached is a full photographic chronology of these events provided to us by the photographers, Chris Cozzone and Gene Blevins.
Mr. Bello is an award-winning photographer with more than 2 decades of experience at events such as Saturday’s fight. As a news agency, we take seriously the safety of our photographers and work to ensure that they have adequate protection. While there are inherent risks in this line of work, the assault by participants at this event is not one of them. We expect that you will take all appropriate actions against Mr. Pacquiao and his entourage, and expect that such will include a significant suspension period. Certainly, under NRS 467.100 and 110 you have broad discretion to address this situation. We expect that you share our concerns with respect to the ability of the media to cover these events safely and will act accordingly. It is our view that an apology, while appropriate, is an insufficient consequence alone and will certainly not deter similar behavior in the future.
I look forward to your prompt response.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com