A Philippine media union demanded yesterday 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 in a non-title bout by Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said.
Pacquiao's staff objected to their fighter being photographed while face down and apparently unconscious on the floor, some reports 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.
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".
The photographs showing Koncz and Fernandez apparently confronting Bello, a veteran sports photographer, were released by Yahoo! Sports.
"Had I not gotten off the ring, I have no doubt the two of them would have beaten me," Bello was quoted as saying. "I might have been seriously hurt."
The sixth-round knockout loss shocked the boxing-crazy Philippines, where Pacquiao is considered a national icon and a possible future presidential candidate.
Pacquiao apologised to his fans for the loss.