Manny’s mascots act tough after KO

Michael Koncz is sorry. Buboy Fernandez is sorry.

Manny Pacquiao is probably still seeing butterflies.

Keith Kizer needs to determine what discipline to dispense.

The fallout continues a week later from an incident that had no business occurring and, if Kizer handles the issue correctly, should land two members of Pacquiao’s team a suspension.

Pacquiao had just been knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8, just been floored by a right counterpunch at the MGM Grand Garden, and lay face-first and unresponsive on the canvas.

That’s when Al Bello began doing his job as a photographer for Getty Images.

He climbed onto the ring apron and began shooting pictures of the fallen Pacquiao, all within the rights of a credentialed member of the media, all within the protocol of someone in Bello’s position.

Koncz is an adviser to Pacquiao and comes off as King Enabler. Fernandez is an assistant trainer, though he seems more like a mascot.

They saw things differently.

They began punching and kicking at Bello, grabbing his shirt and trying to prevent the photographer from jumping off the apron so they could apparently continue attacking him. There is a series of photos that support all of it. In one picture, Buboy the mascot is beyond enraged as he kicks at Bello.

“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.

In a word, ridiculous.

It was an emotional scene for those in the Pacquiao camp, who had never seen their fighter knocked out in such a devastating manner. But the idea that members of any entourage felt it acceptable to attack a photographer is troublesome on all sorts of levels.

“It will be my call on what happens next,” said Kizer, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission. “I can’t speculate on what that might mean and won’t speculate on it.”

Anything short of a suspension for the two would be an unacceptable response from him, a point made in a letter to Kizer and commissioner Skip Avansino from a Getty attorney.

In it, the counsel also suggests Pacquiao be suspended, a part I hope was only included because lawyers tend to throw everyone’s name except their own into such a request.

Pacquiao was unconscious and had no idea two members of his camp were acting like unlawful buffoons just steps away from where he was being revived. In fact, I would guess the person with the least amount of issue with Bello snapping pictures would be the fighter himself, whose political stature in the Philippines and his place as one of boxing’s greats have made cameras as much part of his daily existence as Buboy the mascot.

The incident brings into question another issue, which is the number of people now in a boxing ring following major fights. More and more, it resembles Mardi Gras.

There is a picture of the alleged attack on Bello where 26 people are seen surrounding Pacquiao as he remains on the canvas, including one holding a TV camera for HBO.

Hmmm. I wonder why Koncz and Fernandez didn’t attack him …

Twenty-six people. In just one corner of the ring, one frame of a photo.

Kizer said that on the Wednesday before such a fight, he meets with representatives of both camps, arena officials and those from the Metro Police Department about who and how many people are allowed into the ring once a winner has been declared.

“You prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Kizer said. “That’s why we have the meeting. Once the Metro (officers) determine the ring is too occupied, they will stop anyone else from coming in. They don’t care if it’s (Top Rank chairman) Bob Arum. At that point, I respect their expertise. Metro has done a great job with it.”

Koncz texted Yahoo! Sports last week that the incident with Bello was a misunderstanding and then later told that the photographer had his sincerest apology. Fernandez has also issued an apology through media outlets.

Everyone seems to be sorry.

That’s fine, but it doesn’t erase those angry images caught by cameras. It doesn’t take back the punches and kicks and enraged faces.

Kizer needs to suspend both men, a statement that would stress the fact such a response to someone doing his job is wrong and intolerable.

There is another picture to consider: It is immediately after Pacquiao knocked out Ricky Hatton in 2009. Hatton lay motionless on the MGM canvas as referee Kenny Bayless leans over him.

Pacquiao is smiling as he walks away, and steps behind him in the ring is Fernandez, screaming with joy with his arms raised above his head.

Kizer said it best last week when he didn’t recall anyone from the Pacquiao camp having issues with such a photo being taken of Hatton.

In fact, the mascot looked happier than ever.


Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.

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