The vice president/corporate counsel for Getty Images wrote via email Friday to officials of the Nevada Athletic Commission demanding that boxer Manny Pacquiao and two of his aides be suspended for an alleged attack on one of its photographers after last week's fight with Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacquiao was knocked cold by Marquez near the end of the sixth round of their welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. Getty photographer Al Bello, who has shot boxing for more than 20 years, hopped onto the ring apron to shoot pictures of the fallen Pacquiao.
After Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach asked Bello to stop photographing Pacquiao, pictures shot by other photographs appear to show Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz and assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez physically going after Bello.
Bello told Yahoo! Sports on Monday all he wanted was an apology, but in a letter to commissioner Skip Avansino and executive director Keith Kizer, Lizanne Vaughan, Getty's corporate counsel, asked for a "significant suspension period" for Pacquiao, Koncz and Fernandez. She included photographs shot by Chris Cozzone (which have appeared on Yahoo! Sports) and Gene Blevins as evidence.
Vaughn wrote, in part, "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. ... 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."
Koncz said via text to Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday that the incident was a misunderstanding. He elaborated slightly on Wednesday in comments to Lem Satterfield of RingTV.com.
There was a misunderstanding. And if it was construed any other way, then he has my sincerest apology.
On Wednesday, shortly before leaving for the Philippines, Koncz phoned Yahoo! Sports and asked that his number be given to Bello so that he could apologize. But when Koncz's number was forwarded to Bello, a public relations person for Getty responded and asked that Koncz phone her.
Fernandez apologized, as well, on philboxing.com in story written by Ed de la Vegas, the dentist who makes Pacquiao's mouthpieces.
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.
As Vaughan wrote in her letter to Avansino and Kizer, journalists need to be protected while doing their jobs. Bello was particularly vulnerable because he was holding two cameras in his hands and was on the ring apron, several feet off the floor.
Koncz and Fernandez definitely deserve some sort of punishment for their actions, though it is ludicrous to try to hold Pacquiao responsible.
Pacquiao was out cold and in the midst of a clear medical emergency. No logical person could conclude that he in any way encouraged or condoned such an assault on Bello. A public condemnation of Koncz and Fernandez by Pacquiao is clearly appropriate, but a suspension or any kind of sanction of Pacquiao would be a gross injustice.
Top Rank's Todd duBoef said he felt Koncz and Fernandez needed to answer for their actions, but did not understand how Pacquiao would be liable.
"Pacquiao didn't do anything wrong," duBoef said. "There was a lot of emotion on the part of some people in his camp. If Koncz and Buboy did something, they need to be accountable for it. They need to talk to the commission and talk to the Getty people, but I don't see how you could ever think Manny Pacquiao would be responsible for that."
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