It has been said that a picture says a thousand words. Sometimes the right picture can say so much more than that. Matthew Heasley and Darryl Cobb, the respective Feature and Action division first-place winners in the annual Boxing Writers Association of America photo contest, both cite the work of iconic Sports Illustrated photographer Neil Leifer as an inspiration for their efforts to capture just the right image at just the right moment whenever they assume their position along the ring apron.
Heasley, shooting for RingTV.com, believes he came as close as he ever has to channeling his inner Leifer for Samuel Teah’s devastating fourth-round knockout of Efrain Cruz at the Liacouras Center on the Temple University campus in Philadelphia. Referee Eric Dali crouched protectively over the fallen and quite knocked-out Cruz when Heasley snapped his winning photo, which he calls “the perfect shot.”
“I shoot a lot of boxing,” Heasley said. “For me, that shot was reminiscent of the Neil Leifer shot of Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston (in their May 25, 1965, rematch in Lewiston, Maine). It was that dramatic; the perfect shot. I shot bigger fights last year, but nothing inspired me like that one.”
Cobb, who entered the BWAA photo contest for the first time, also took his first place for a fight that was well off the national and international radar, which shows Fred Jenkins Jr. connecting with a right hand to the jaw of Isaiah Wine at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia. Wise went on to score a six-roun unanimous decision, however.
“I’m still buzzing over this,” Cobb, who was shooting for Peltz Boxing, said of entering the exclusive club of first-place BWAA photo winners mostly populated by veteran, award-winning shooters. “The story of boxing is told through writing about it, but also through the visuals. We – all boxing photographers – take inspiration from the work of the great Neil Leifer. Some of his photos almost literally jump off the page.”
1st Place: Darryl Cobb, Peltz Boxing, Sept. 8 – Middleweight Fred Jenkins connects with an overhand right, but Isaiah Wise shrugged it off en route to scoring a six-round unanimous decision at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.
2nd Place: Edward Diller, DiBella Entertainment, Nov. 4 – Referee Arthur Mercane Jr. goes airborne to pull WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder from the knocked-out Bermane Stiverne in the first round of their rematch at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
3rd Place: Al Bello, Getty Images, Nov. 4: That yellow glove belongs to middleweight Ievgen Khytrov, who lands against Immanuwei Aleem, but Aleem went on to win on a sixth-round TKO at the Barclays Center.
Honorable Mention: Lester Silva, Univision Deportes, March 4 –Danny Garcia (left) appears to do a fancy dance step after taking a shot from Keith Thurman in their welterweight unification bout at the Barclay Center, which Thurman won on a split decision.
Honorable Mention: David Spagnolo, Main Events Promotions, June 17 – Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev simultaneously land left hands in their light heavyweight championship rematch at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay, which Ward won on an eighth-round stoppage.
Honorable Mention: Ed Mulholland, HBO Sports, Aug. 26 – Miguel Cotto takes another step toward claiming the vacant WBO super welterweight title by landing a hard right against Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
1st Place: Matthew Heasley, RingTV.com, April 29 – Referee Eric Dali hovers protectively over the fallen Efrain Cruz after his fourth-round knockout loss to Samuel Teah at the Liacouras Center.
2nd Place: Billy Tompkins, Cover Images, Nov. 25 – Vyacheslav Shabranskyy’s look of resignation after his second-round stoppage by Sergey Kovalev, if you happened to be in the cheap seats and couldn’t get a good look at it, plays larger-than-life on the big screen at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
3rd Place: Ray Bailey, Pound4Pound.com, Dec. 2 – An exultant Sadam Ali has his hand raised by referee Charlie Fitch while future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto is consoled after Ali lifted Cotto’s WBO super welterweight title at Madison Square Garden.
Honorable Mention: Emily Harney, Hogan Photos, April 29 – Juan Jesus Rivera covers his eyes with his gloves as referee Gary Rosato kneels over him after Rivera was kayoed in the first round by super welterweight Travell Mazion at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, N.Y.
Honorable Mention: Tom Hogan, Golden Boy Promotions, Sept. 14 – Super featherweight Ryan Garcia is pumped and ready to go before the first bell rings for his bout with Miguel Carrizoza at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand. Garcia’s show of confidence was justified; he won on a first-round knockout.