KONCZ, FERNANDEZ FACE CHARGES BEFORE NEVADA COMMISSION
By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Wed, 19 Dec 2012
Manny Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz and childhood friend and Filipino trainer Restituto “Buboy” Fernandez are facing charges for allegedly roughing up Getty Images award-winning photographer Al Bello and trying to prevent him from taking pictures of a fallen Pacquiao after his crushing 76th round knockout by Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena last December 8.
The reported apologies which Fernandez for one coursed through Dr. Ed De La Vega on philboxing.com and Koncz' apparent attempt to brush off the incident as a "misunderstanding, did little to assuage the feelings of Bello and his lawyer, Vice President and Corporate Counsel of Getty Images, Lizanne Vaughan.
Vaughan was quoted by writer Joseph Lariosa of Journal Group Link International as claiming that Bello was “punched, kicked, grabbed” and then “chased” away for trying to take still photos of the fallen Filipino champion in the ring.
The company lawyer in a letter to Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer and NSAC chairman Raymond “Skip” Avansino Jr said that while apologies are “appropriate, (they are) insufficient consequence alone and will certainly not deter similar behavior in the future.”
Vaughan has urged both Kizer and Avansino Jr to “take all appropriate actions against Mr. Pacquiao and his entourage, and (we) expect that such include a significant suspension period.”
The Manila Standard believes that involving Pacquiao who was out cold after being knocked out and didn’t know what was going on appears patently unfair and uncalled for considering Pacquiao’s well-known humility and respect for his opponents, media and fans.
In her letter to the NSAC officials which also included a “full photographic chronology of these events” taken by photographers Chris Cozzone and Gene Blevins. Bello's lawyer asked the top NSAC executives to invoke pertinent Nevada state laws, which give the NSAC “broad discretion to address this situation.”
Atty. Vaughan said “We expect that you share our concerns with respect to the ability of the media to cover these events safely and will act accordingly.”
According to journalist Lariosa, Vaughan pointed to what she termed as “our concerns regarding the incident that occurred on Saturday, Dec. 8” stating “I believe you are aware that members of Mr. Pacquiao’s entourage attacked our staff photographer, Al Bello, without provocation emphasizing that Belo was “credentialed to be there and, indeed, has photographed Mr. Pacquiao numerous times previously without incident.”
However, she pointed out that “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.”
Bello was referred to as an award-winning photographer with more than two decades of experience at events such as Saturday’s fight prompting Vaughan to clearly state that “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.”
The lawyer noted that “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” and that the NSAC 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.”
Vaughan added that 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.”
She indicated that 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.”
Well known Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole reported that Koncz and 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.
Iole quoted Belo as telling him “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.”
Koncz reportedly claimed it was “Not an assault just a misunderstanding in the heat of the moment.”
He also 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.
The photographer said “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.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.”
Photo by Chris Cozzone.
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