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London 2012, ringside: Fight photographer recalls action, electricity

August 13, 2012 | By Scott Heavey | Olympics, Photography, Photojournalism, Sport

When I was told by my assignments editor that I’d be covering the London 2012 Olympics, I was over the moon. When it was made clear I’d be based at London’s ExCel with the duty of producing images for the next big name boxers, it got even better.

I’d been covering boxing for the past four years and whenever there’s a big fight on my calendar, I spend the week before at the gym of the two boxers, the weigh in and the head-to-head press conferences. By the time fight night comes around, the buzz is immense: The whole build-up has passed, there’s no sign of any entourage or loud mouthed promoter, just two men and a referee under bright lights and the world looking down on them.

I wasn’t entirely sure I’d experience the same buzz as this during the Olympics. Three 3-minute rounds for each fight (or four, 2-minute rounds for women) meant they would come thick and fast. No build up, just the announcer calling their name and the first bell within 10 minutes of the last bout.

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Getty Images photographer Scott Heavey takes a break from covering boxing at the London 2012 Olympics. (This photo was graciously taken by AP Photographer Patrick Semansky — Thanks, Patrick!)

 

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Gold medalist Katie Taylor of Ireland celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Women’s Light (60kg) Boxing final bout on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

But when it comes to atmosphere, I only have to mention Katie Taylor of Ireland verses Natasha Jonas of Team GB and those of you who were there will know what I mean. The arena was electric and I could barely hear the shutter of my camera as the punches came raining down. It’s the first time women’s boxing has featured at the Olympics and going on that atmosphere and the fact the first ever Gold medal was won by our very own Nicola Adams, I think, has made it a huge success.

Amateur boxing is a completely different kettle of fish to professional. Not just for the boxers but for those behind the cameras too.

There has been much speculation in recent times about the head guards used in the Olympics and it has been a whole new challenge for me to create images that work where you can see the athlete’s faces. Every fight fan knows a good boxer has a high guard and a low chin. This of course doesn’t help me when I need to see expression and action in the same frame and isn’t being blocked by gloves or said head guard.

However with more than 256 fights in the bag,I think I’ve fired enough frames for a set of images which show the best of this year’s event.

 

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Ryota Murata of Japan (L) in action with Adem Kilicci of Turkey during the Men’s Middle (75kg) Boxing on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 6, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

 

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Michael Conlan of Ireland (L) celebrates his victory over Nordine Oubaali of France during the Men’s Fly (52kg) Boxing on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 7, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

 

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Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan (R) in action with Mark Barriga of Philippines during the Men’s Light Fly (46-49kg_ Boxing on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

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Han Soonchul of Korea (L) celebrates his victory over Fazliddin Gaibnazarov of Uzbekistan during the Men’s Light (60kg) Boxing on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 6, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

 

Getty Images photographer Scott Heavey pauses for a moment at the 2012 London Olympics. (Photo Patrick Semansky)

Getty Images photographer Scott Heavey pauses for a moment at the 2012 London Olympics. (Thanks to AP Photographer and ringside colleague Patrick Semansky for taking this photo)

Editor’s note:  Scott Heavey has been a sports photographer for more than 10 years, three of which at Getty Images. Having started out at a local newspaper when he was 22, he quickly progressed to cover such major events as the UEFA Champions League Final, US Open Tennis and the Ryder Cup. Since joining Getty Images, Scott has specialized in football and boxing. Having traveled to South Africa for the World Cup and Las Vegas for many international bouts, he is happy to be working out of London (his home town) during the London 2012 Olympics. You can follow him on twitter @skosh23

 

 

 

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