Pacquiao camp accused of attacking photographer
MANILA (AFP) –
A Philippine media union demanded Thursday that Manny Pacquiao punish two members of his camp after they allegedly assaulted a photographer moments after his brutal knockout in Las Vegas.
Widely circulated photographs showed a man in a training suit lashing out with a leg from inside the ropes at a man with a camera below as a mob of people swarmed onto the ring.
Captions accompanying the photograph identified the man in the training suit as Pacquiao’s Filipino assistant coach Buboy Fernandez and the photographer as Al Bello of Getty Images.
A second man in a grey suit shown grabbing the back of the cameraman was identified as Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz.
The assault occurred at the Las Vegas ring shortly after Pacquiao was knocked out there in a non-title bout by Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said.
The staff objected to their fighter being photographed while face down and apparently unconscious on the floor, some reports have suggested.
“It is clear that Bello was merely performing his obligations as a photojournalist and, besides, had every right to take pictures of the fallen Pacquiao,” the Filipino union said in a statement.
The two aides “had absolutely no reason to attack and their doing so was actually in the nature of a criminal act”, the union said.
Pacquiao “should take action against these two, whose boorish and unsportsmanlike reaction to the loss can only tarnish the reputation for sportsmanship that has endeared him to millions of fans”.
Yahoo! Sports has released photos showing Koncz and Fernandez apparently confronting Bello, a veteran sports photographer.
“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 was quoted as saying.
Calls by AFP to the Pacquiao camp went unanswered Thursday.
The sixth-round knockout loss shocked the boxing-crazy Philippines, where Pacquiao is considered a national icon and a possible presidential candidate in the future.
He apologised to his fans for the loss and vowed to “rise again” even as calls for him to retire mounted.