About a month ago when I was presented with the option to go to Vegas to shoot ringside as one of the top boxers of our generation, Floyd Mayweather Jr, would be taking on Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand.
It didn’t take me more than 5 minutes to respond to the email with an emphatic Yes!
Now I would have to show up not knowing any of the photo rules, techniques and boxing protocol for such a big matchup.
You know what they say, fake it till you make it!
One thing I did plan going into the shoot was to use a higher than normal shutter speed. I always see these crazy boxing punch photos where the guy getting hit is completely blurred. With the quality of the Canon 1Dx I shoot with instead of a standard 1/1000th shutter speed I decided to crank it up to 6400iso so I could get a 1/2500th shutter speed to see if that would help nail the shot I badly wanted!
After getting my ass handed to me shooting a couple undercard bouts I realized this sport was much harder than I expected.
Time to get all the distractions and stress out of my mind and get in the zone and figure it out!
I have a fair amount of experience covering UFC fighting so I figured boxing would be pretty similar. The first thing I learned is with UFC my lens of choice was a 70-200mm but with boxing, a 24-70mm was much more used than the longer lens. I think a lot of the reasoning with that was the longer lens allowed me to shoot through the cage easier.
With the four main card fights starting I didn’t have time to practice. I had to produce.
Fight One: J’Leon Love vs Marco Periban
Fight Two: Adrien Broner vs Carlos Molina
Below, rapper Rick Ross performs as he walks out with Adrien Broner prior to the fight.
And I would get the shot I wanted! Tack sharp focus on a fighters face being distorted by a punch!
I happened to glance at the shot during my between round card download and editing beneath a judges table. I could feel the excitement of nailing a good frame throughout my body and couldn’t help but smile.
Confidence would not be a problem the rest of the night. I was in my zone!
In the below shot I got a double face punch. Sweet!
Below, boxing legend Mike Tyson sits ringside. When they showed him on the jumbotrons the place went wild with cheers.
Fight Three: Amir Khan vs Luis Collazo
Below, Khan reacts to a low blow below the belt. #Ouch #familyjewels
Amir Khan celebrates with the belts after his victory. His name has been mentioned as a front runner to fight Mayweather in the future. I hope that happens!
Now it was finally time for the main card!
Fight four: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Marcos Maidana
Below, actor/recording artist Tyrese performs the national anthem prior to the fight.
After national anthem was fighter intros.
First out was Marcos Maidana who came out in the standard pre fight fashion with his trainers and small entourage.
Then it was time for Floyd Mayweather to come out….
Unlike Maidaras entrance, Mayweathers was a circus, no literally!
While its hard to see in the below shot, circus performers are walking through the crowd as fake money featuring Mayweathers name and face falls from the rafters.
After the show girls, clowns, and little people were out Mayweather and his entourage came out.
And it was an impressive entourage featuring a performance by rapper Lil Wayne…
This is some proximity to Justin Beiber that teenage girls would kill for… oh wait, this isn’t 2010…
Check me out in action on the below photo via Getty Images.
And here is my view of the same moment…
Let the fight begin!
Below, Justin Beiber watches from the crowd near Floyd Mayweathers children.
Below, blood is visible coming from above Floyd Mayweathers face. According to some stories I’ve read on the web, its the first time an opponent has made Mayweather bleed. Crazy!
Surprisingly, to me at least, the fight went all 12 rounds.
One thing I learned this night was as soon as the fight ends we are allowed to jump up on the ring to shoot from outside the ropes.
I was able to quickly jump up on the ring to get shots before a mass crowd of people entered the ring.
I was pretty sure Maidana had won the fight but I was positioned a few feet from Mayweather so I decided to focus on him as the decision was announced.
There was one photographer between me and Mayweather blocking my view so I got creative and grabbed the top rope of the ring with my left hand and hung out over the edge of the ring to shoot around the other photographer to get the below shot.
A few seconds later came my biggest regret of the night.
I was standing just behind Justin Beiber as he set up to take a selfie with Mayweather. Every voice in my head told me to go for the photo bomb but professionalism took over and I lost the balls to do it…
I instead shot the below photo of the selfie in progress.
Here was Beibers shot. (notice me on right shooting)
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) May 4, 2014
All that was left to get was Mayweather with the belt.
That wraps up my first attempt shooting boxing ringside. Hopefully I will get the call again soon to cover another match.
Special thanks to fellow photographers Ed Mulholland, Harry How, Craig Bennett, Will Fox and Alex Mendez for dealing with all my newbie questions!
Oh yea, and don’t think for a second I didnt grab a handful of that Mayweather money that fell from the ceiling on my way out….
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