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Boxing-A Poor Mans Sport

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Vice FightlandProfessional photographers have had a hard go of it in the past decade! Digital cameras and platforms have made
it easier for anyone with a camera to take amazing pictures. The quality of images that are being snapped today
is beyond compare to just a few short years back. I-phones are incredible at capturing publication worthy images, and
with that, the demise of professional photographers is on the upswing, anything can get published these days if you find the right outlet or means.

Does that mean that anyone can take a good photograph? Of course not. Professionals look beyond the actual picture,
they are trained to set the exposure for intended effect, blur out a background and let the light hit just right to capture the peak moment, to give the end viewer the whole story…..as if they themselves were actual present in the moment.
Anyone can claim to be a photographer, but don’t just claim it too loudly to those of us who are schooled in the art. We are all MEDIA capable, but it takes many years of successful shooting to continuously make a living off of our craft.

Boxers are the same way, just because you can throw a punch does NOT mean that you are a boxer. Professional boxers give and take punches on a daily basis, learning the proper techniques and avoidance measures…they react on instinct and thus, turn pro when/if they are good enough. I fought for a few years when I was younger, upon realizing that I would never make it as a pro, I changed careers at the right moment. I am forever grateful for what my coaches taught me, and I wont forget my skills, but with that, I do not call myself a professional boxer.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are fighting this weekend, you may have heard rumblings about it somewhere.
I was at the Mayweather camp in Las Vegas last week for the open media day, with about 400 other media types. It was a madhouse, and looking back it was a somewhat unpleasant experience. The general rudeness amongst those covering the open workout was embarassing. There was fighting, pushing and general name calling over simple positioning by those trying to get their own angles. People were actually moving other outlets bags and markers when they simply stepped away for a drink of water. This is not the journalism I was taught, and looking back, I am happy to say that I did my best with what was allowed to me. Kelly Swanson and her crew, along with those that run the Mayweather Boxing Club were amazing, with their politeness and the way that they were so accomodating to fans and showbiz types alike, but for the reporters and some of the camera operators, OMG, how long do you think you will last in this business if you continue to behave like you did? Seriously!
If you know me, then you know I am not one to hold back, I will face a challenge head on and speak my mind to those that are not following the rules. I asked a few folks just what they were thinking, and they all told me that they had the right to do what it was they were doing. They had the obligatory wrist band wrapped around their arm, so thus, they were in their minds, LEGIT.

I understand that with the limited time and deadlines, the pressure was on, but some of you “journalists” had better come to your senses. You represent not only yourself, but your media outlet as well as your mentors……this is a very small world and word travels fast in this industry.

Regardless of the experience, I had a very good week leading up to the camp with a quick stop over in Miami with Wladimir Klitschko and then was fortunate enough to shoot the fight of my life at Turning Stone Casino between Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov. All in all, I was able to get almost 100 images published in just the past week. Rolling Stone, TIME magazine, SI, ESPN, TheRING Mag and over one dozen different countries picked up my photos. I did apply to cover the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, but was turned down…there are simply not enough spots available I guess, or our seats were sold to boost numbers! Though I am not happy with being declined, I am trying to keep my head up and just move on, to get past it. There will be better fights in the future and hopefully I will be invited to shoot those! Just like boxing itself, if you get knocked down, tighten your gloves and stand right back up, eventually you will forget about getting knocked down and will one day be the best.

If you like the sport, check out coverage from Al Bello and Ed Mulholland this week, they are the top 2 shooters currently that shoot the sweet science, and just all around good guys.

I tried to upload a PDF of last weeks tearsheets but the file was too large, check some shots here:

Alex Menendez tearheets:   http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/gallery/Tearsheets/G0000lyzBgEalMdk/

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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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