Andy catches up with Mikey Williams, photographer for Top Rank Boxing, who photographed the first live boxing match held during the COVID-19 pandemic on June 9.
Williams describes the return to live boxing as “nonstop, controlled chaos” due to a ramped-up schedule. He said that fighters and staff get tested for coronavirus twice per week and were required to stay within the “bubble” Top Rank created in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand hotel.
In addition to precautions such as staff wearing masks. Williams explained that he was photographing from an elevated position near the ring instead of his usual ringside spot. But Williams is up to the challenge of continuing to capture action-packed images.
“I want to make iconic photos every night…things happen and you just have to battle through them and stay locked in,” Williams said.
Williams began his photography career when he studied photojournalism in college after he finished his service with the Navy.
“My first assignment was baseball,” Williams said. “Baseball was my sport, I grew up playing since I was 5-years-old.”
He remembered collecting baseball cards with his father and credits those images with influencing his later work.
“I saw all these professional sports photos. I have all these images in my head of what that’s supposed to look like,” Williams said in an interview.
From there, he worked with the Gardena Valley newspaper and secured a credential to photograph at Dodger Stadium which led to his meeting longtime Dodgers team photographer Jon SooHoo. Next thing Mikey knew he was working for Jon and the Dodgers covering the 2017 and 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium.
“It was a dream come true, aside from not pitching for them,” Williams said.
He described being eager to learn photography and practicing at every opportunity he could, including taking photos of fish swimming in an aquarium to teach himself how to shoot quick action.
Eight years ago, boxer Brandon Rios reached out to Williams about his photography. After this first foray into boxing, Rios and Williams went on to work for Top Rank Boxing, based in Las Vegas.
Williams and Bernstein discuss some of his favorite photos and how he has adapted to “shoot less” and produce images faster to meet the demands of social media.
“I got into [photographing] boxing and I kind of fell in love with the sport, there’s something different about a boxer,” Williams said. “I’m super proud and happy to represent the fighters.”