Pacquiao And His Handlers In Hot Water

by Joseph G. Lariosa

 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – Filipino Buboy Fernandez and Canadian Michael Koncz, Manny Pacquiao’s assistants, had reportedly apologized to award-winning Getty Image photographer Al Bello who was “punched, kicked, grabbed” and then “chased” away for trying to take still photos of the fallen Filipino champion in the ring.  But Bello’s company lawyer believes that while apologies are “appropriate, (they are) insufficient consequence alone and will certainly not deter similar behavior in the future.”

Lizanne Vaughan (pronounced von), Vice President Corporate Counsel, of Seattle, Washington-based Getty Images, is urging Raymond “Skip” Avansino, Jr. and Keith Kizer, chair and executive director of Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) in Las Vegas, to “take all appropriate actions against Mr. Pacquiao and his entourage, and (we) expect that such include a significant suspension period.”

In a letter and an attached “full photographic chronology of these events” of the assault taken by photographers Chris Cozzone and Gene Blevins provided to NSAC on Friday, Dec. 14, Vaughan urged  Avansino and Kizer to invoke “NRS.100 and 110,” Nevada state laws, which give the NSAC “broad discretion to address this situation.”  Kizer forwarded to this reporter a copy of the letter and the “full photographic chronology” of photos.

“We expect that you share our concerns with respect to the ability of the media to cover these events safely and will act accordingly.”

In her letter, Vaughan said she is raising “our concerns regarding the incident that occurred on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the MGM Grand Garden (in Las Vegas) in the immediate aftermath of Pacquiao’s knockout.

ATTACKED WITHOUT PROVOCATION

“I believe you are aware that members of Mr. Pacquiao’s entourage attacked our staff photographer, Al Bello, without provocation.

“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 photographers, Chris Cozzone and Gene Blevins.”

Bello was described as an award-winning photographer with more than two decades of experience at events such as Saturday’s fight.

Vaughan said, “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.”

“NRS (Nevada Revised Statutes) 467.100 grants the Nevada Athletic Commission the power to deny or grant application for a limited, restricted or conditional license to a “contestant, promoter, manager, trainer, ring official and others” for “any cause deemed sufficient by the Commission.”

The NAC acts on the license based on “applicant’s general suitability, character, integrity, and ability to participate or engage in, or be associated with contests or exhibitions or unarmed combat.”

NRS 467.110 grants NAC power to “suspend or revoke the license of, otherwise discipline, or take any combination of such actions against any contestant, promoter, ring official or other participant who,” among others “fails to comply with any limitation, restriction or condition placed on his or her license.”

ADDITIONAL PENALTIES

Under NRS 467.158, “penalties in lieu of or in addition to other disciplinary action” that “does not relate to a contest or exhibition of unarmed combat as provided in subsection 2, the Commission may, in lieu of revoking a license, prescribe a penalty not to exceed $250,000 or 100 percent of the share of the purse to which the holder of the license is entitled for the contest or exhibition, whichever amount is greater, and payment of costs of the proceeding, including investigative and attorney’s fees.”

Under NRS 467.113, any member of the NAC may conduct hearings “to be preceded by a written notice to be served upon the accused at least 10 days before the hearing.”

On Dec. 11, Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole reported that 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 Pacquiao aides.

“Had I not gotten off the ring, I have no doubt the two of them would have beaten the [expletive] out of me and I might have been seriously hurt,” Bello told Yahoo! Sports.

Koncz, who essentially serves as Pacquiao’s manager, later told Iole, “Not an assault just a misunderstanding in the heat of the moment.”

Koncz later told Lem Satterfield of ringtv.craveonline.com, “On behalf of Buboy and myself, we apologize for any inconvenience that it may have caused to the cameraman.” Bello told Iole that the incident began Saturday when Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach asked him not to shoot. He said that caught the attention of Koncz and Fernandez, who started the incident. Bello said Roach never touched him and later apologized for asking him not to shoot photos.

Bello said he is a fan of Pacquiao and was just doing his job.

“Nobody likes doing that, but I was where I was credentialed to be and I was trying to do my job, which is to document the event,” Bello said. “It’s no different than the war photographers who have to shoot what is happening on a battlefield. Nobody wants to do that, but you have to document history. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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For Photographic Chronology of attached video clip go to:   http://tinyurl.com/d3jh3jp

PHOTO CAPTIONS


GRABBING, CHASING PHOTOGRAPHER AL BELLO –

Michael Koncz, Manny Pacquiao’s adviser, grabs the shirt of Getty Image photographer Al Bello while Pacquiao’s assistant Buboy Fernandez (to Koncz’ left) appears to be kicking Bello as Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach (to Koncz’ right back to camera) prevented Bello from taking photos of the fallen Pacquiao, who was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez last Dec. 8, 2012 at MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

These first two photos are two of the series of photos taken by sports photographers Chris Cozzone and Gene Blevins that form part of the evidence submitted by Bello’s lawyer, Lizanne Vaughan, to Executive Director Keith Kizer of the Nevada Athletic Commission.  Despite the reported apologies by Koncz and Fernandez, Vaughan called the apologies insufficient to prevent similar incident from happening. She said she expects “a significant suspension period” against Koncz and Fernandez.

Even if Bello is already below the apron (third photo), Fernandez still appears to be cussing and chasing away Bello, who was credentialed to cover the tragic bout.  (jGLi)

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