An AP photographer works quickly to land a shot from ringside in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) — John Locher has been photographing boxing for more than two decades. He’s been ringside for a rollcall of the best fighters this century: Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Wladimir Klitschko, Manny Pacquiao, Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley are among the boxers he’s covered. His most recent fight was a super lightweight title bout in which Isaac Cruz beat Rolando Romero. Here’s what Locher said about making this extraordinary photo:

Why this photo

Las Vegas has become a sports town in the last several years. We’ve had professional franchises such as the Raiders football team and Aces WNBA team move here, and home-grown teams like the Vegas Golden Knights. They’ve had a lot of success and have captured the hearts of many Las Vegans. But it’s hard for me to not think of Las Vegas as a boxing town. Before the arrival of the pro teams it was the main sport I covered, and it remains one of my favorites. This photo is a classic peak action photo that I try to get at every fight. I call it a “squishy face” photo.

How I made this photo

I shot this photo from a ringside position with a 24-70 millimeter lens. I’ve often referred to this as my boxing lens because I’ll use it for probably 95 percent of my boxing pictures. It allows you to zoom in tight enough to catch connection photos like this one and also to quickly zoom out enough to capture a knockdown. I will have other cameras and lenses ready beside me, but I generally use those between rounds and before and after the fight. In boxing, the action happens very quickly and if you’re switching cameras in the middle of it you can miss a key moment. Photographing boxing isn’t terribly complicated. As you’re shooting, you look at the boxer’s movements to try and anticipate punches and hit the shutter at the right moment. That combined with a little luck and you can get a smushy face!

Why this photo works

Covering boxing from ringside has an intimacy you don’t often get with other sports. The fighters are rarely much farther than 20 feet (6 meters) away. As a photographer you are really close to the action — your elbows are resting on the mat. Often, it’s a bit too close — getting sprayed with sweat and blood are part of the game (I always keep lens wipes handy to clean my cameras and glasses). I think this photo works because of its intimacy. You feel like you’re right in there with the fighters. That combined with one of photography’s greatest strengths: the ability to capture a fraction of a moment in time. Fans in the arena could see the fight and see the brutal punches, but they can’t see the details of Rolando Romero’s contorted face and flapping ears the instant after he was struck with a powerful left hand by Isaac Cruz without a photograph to freeze that very brief moment in time.


For more extraordinary AP photography, click here.

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