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Boxing Art

Juan Aguirre (L) fights with Armando Alvarez during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Aguirre won the bout. Photo: Alex Menendez

Juan Aguirre (L) fights with Armando Alvarez during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Aguirre won the bout. Photo: Alex Menendez

What of week of boxing coverage!
Those of you that are new to this photo blog may not know that I religiously cover the sport of boxing and usually travel out of state to do so. However the “Sunshine State” is home base for me, and this week it was incredible! I had to opportunity to once again film Puerto Rican superstar Felix Verdejo at the Kissimmee Boxing Gym, then over to the AllStar Telemundo boxing televised event at the Kissimmee Civic center with good friend Orlando Cruz as the headliner, and finally my first trip in a very long time to the center of the state, the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland.
Keep in mind that I’ve filmed at the biggest boxing venues in the U.S. and have come to expect very good lighting…..well, last night failed, or so I thought.

LeAnthony Fleming fights against Randy Hedderick during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Fleming won the fight. Photo: Alex Menendez

LeAnthony Fleming fights against Randy Hedderick during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Fleming won the fight. Photo: Alex Menendez

Upon walking into the venue, I was blown away by the lack of lights on the ceiling. There was no lighting grid whatsoever, just a bunch of hanging wires and garage type halogen lights that anyone could easily buy from the local Home Depot. The colors were mismatched to say the least, and the flourescents were flickering, but we do what we can as professionals, right?

The venue itself was a very old nightclub with broken walls, busted up floor and a stage for the band that was off to the side, it reminded me that Roadhouse feel, you know, identical to the old Patrick Swayze film……

Alex Nicholson fights against Joseph White during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Nichilson won the bout. Photo: Alex Menendez

Alex Nicholson fights against Joseph White during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Nichilson won the bout. Photo: Alex Menendez

I set my Canon 1DX to ISO 500 with a 24-70 2.8 and was lucky to be able to get a shutter speed of 250…I strive for 500 or higher, but this was the best I could do.
There were a number of other photographer friends at this event along side me as a very hot rising up and comer was fighting. Radivoje “Hot Rod” Kalajjdic is undefeated and has been signed to a contract by Dibella Entertainment, one of the sports largest promoters.

We all took our spots on the apron and started the first of six fights that were on the card. Surprisingly, the sucky light was making for some very artistic images. I struggled at first in getting sharp images, but once i got into the groove, the night turned into a very enjoyable photography experience. The cycling of the flourescents made every sequence of shots white, they yellow then blue. Three consecutive images, three different colors. Custom white balance and fluorescent white balance had no effect on the images…they were what they were…nature of the beast.

Radivoje "Hot Rod" Kalajjdic knocks out Gilberto Domingos during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Photo: Alex Menendez

Radivoje “Hot Rod” Kalajjdic knocks out Gilberto Domingos during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Photo: Alex Menendez

Hot Rod won his match by first round knock out and the hometowm crowd roared in delight as the fights came to an end. I will admit, the tacos at the venue were world class, especially with fresh lime on them, probably the second best mexican ever. If your are wondering if I will ever go back to this place….

….the answer is a resounding Yes, in a heartbeat! Thanks again FLORIDA.

Wytana Faulk fights with Christen Brightwell during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Photo: Alex Menendez

Wytana Faulk fights with Christen Brightwell during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Photo: Alex Menendez

More pictures here: http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/#!/index/G00000Olm9XZUI_8

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Boxing projects

Showtime Boxing at Turning Stone Resort.

Showtime Boxing at Turning Stone Resort.

When I was 19 years old, I started participating in the sport of Boxing. There was no real reason for it, I had been in a few fistfights growing up but nothing that lived inside me that craved a penchant for blood and fists. I simply thought the sport was cool. Keep in mind, this was the time of Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard…..it was popular and I just wanted to do it.
I fought everyday for almost 5 years before “retiring”……It kinda hurt.

Thomas Dulorme gets knocked down by Luis Carlos Abregu during their fight for the WBC International title during the HBO Triple Explosion fight at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY, on Saturday, Oct 27, 2012.  Abregu won the bout by TKO in the 7th round.(AP Photo/Alex Menendez)

Thomas Dulorme gets knocked down by Luis Carlos Abregu during their fight for the WBC International title during the HBO Triple Explosion fight at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY, on Saturday, Oct 27, 2012. Abregu won the bout by TKO in the 7th round.(AP Photo/Alex Menendez)

Fast forward twenty some odd years and here I am again in the sport that I loved, only this time I am outside of the ropes. I’ve become a sports photographer and I have had the opportunity to shoot quite a few fights in the past year. I’ve flown numerous times to The Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Upstate New York and shot televised events under the ShowTime, HBO and ESPN broadcast banners. I’ve also filmed in Kissimmee,Orlando, Las Vegas and Liverpool and I’m hopefully just getting started in this endeavour.

Orlando Cruz fights and wins after announcing that he is gay.

Orlando Cruz fights and wins after announcing that he is gay.

My rekindled interest started back when there was commotion of the first pro fighter coming out, as they say. Puerto Rican superstar Orlando Cruz had just announced to his family and sportswriters that he was gay, a first in the sport, and the media buzz was incredible! I shot his fight in the packed stadium and listened as the catcalls and boo’s of the crowd quickly turned into chants of joy,encouragement and national pride. Cruz had turned a majority of the crowd into passionate fans who got to witness his pugilistic prowess first hand. He easily won the fight, and that feeling I had upon seeing my images on the back of my camera that night were set in stone, boxing and the surrounding atmosphere would become my new passion.

ESPN Boxcino action featuring Brandon Adams.

ESPN Boxcino action featuring Brandon Adams.

It was shortly after that when I began work on a documentary film centered around Canastota, New York, the home of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and the town I grew up in. Interviews with Tony Graziano, Ray Rinaldi, Billy Backus and Ed Brophy give this project in depth insight into the history of the sport and how it should be covered and one day remembered. This project of mine has continued for almost 3 years, and I am getting closer to finishing up the project with the help of talented producer and writer Linnea, and the wondrous insights from all of the promoters, trainers and boxers themselves, and the witty locals who have extensive knowledge of boxing and its roots. The folks I have met, and my surrounding team are the best at what they do, and this keeps drawing me back, month after month. Im proud to say that I am off once again to my hometown, for my fourth consecutive Hall of Fame inductions in just a few weeks, to not only cover the event for the Associated Press wire service, but to reach out and make more industry connections. I truly want to be a “go to shooter” in the minds of all of the promotion companies and their fighters for the next few decades. I feel I have the skills and my technique and timing for the moment of impact are flawless.

Miguel Cotto knocks out Delvin Rodriguez during their bout in Orlando, Florida.

Miguel Cotto knocks out Delvin Rodriguez during their bout in Orlando, Florida.

Near the end of 2013, another Puerto Rican superstar, Miguel Cotto was bringing his contest to the Amway Arena, with his Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach. These two have hooked up and are both at the top of their games. The sellout crowd was just under 17,000 and was by far the biggest fight ever in the Orlando market. Cotto won by beating Delvin Rodriguez by knockout in the 3rd round. My images were distributed all over the Associated Press wire service, and I ended up having a “Photo of the week” image run on the ESPN photo gallery page. Big time fights make for damn good images!

A few more trips back to Turning Stone saw some amazing fights on the ESPN Boxcino tournament. I was able to capture some more thrilling images including a TKO from Floridian Nate Heaven, in the heavyweight division. Power punches galore.

Floyd Mayweather is seen at the weigh in prior to his fight against Marcos Maidana, in Las Vegas.

Floyd Mayweather is seen at the weigh in prior to his fight against Marcos Maidana, in Las Vegas.

The highlight of my boxing photography happened a few short weeks ago at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and crew had promoted a show at the Turning Stone Events Center earlier in the year, and it was there that I met with TMT media and promotions manager Nicole Craig. She is an extremely busy person, but actually took the time to speak briefly with me. It was her help that enabled me to shoot a few days of coverage in Las Vegas. “The Moment” pitted Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his 45-0 record against Argentinian Marcos Maidana.
There is way too much to talk about on this trip, the fans, the promoters, the weigh in, the fight and just that Fight Freak atmosphere….but all in all the experience was incredible! Though I was not really set up for the media access I am normally accustomed to, I was able to pull off a few cool handheld images from my seat up high in the arena. I truly hope to one day be a main apron shooter at fights of this magnitude! I am working on my boxing styles and shooting skills every chance I get, and will surely be part of the young guard coming up the ranks…. I want to acknowledge and thank all of the promoters and media contacts that have helped to get me this far. You will be seeing a lot of my images in publications in the coming years……this I guarantee!

Floyd Mayweather punches Marcos Maidana as he wins his 46th straight match.

Floyd Mayweather punches Marcos Maidana as he wins his 46th straight match.

All images copyright Alex Menendez. More work here: http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/archive

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