Fashion photographer Albert Watson contributes a terrifying shot of the back of Mike Tyson's neck, which has the monolithic indomitability of a column at Stonehenge, and Sylvia Plachy shows a 1987 portrait of promoter Don King's head framed in a halo of backlit hair. Also on view is another Plachy photo of King taken at Madison Square Garden in 1979; King's endlessly fascinating hair looks especially unkempt in this shot.
Plachy's are funny pictures in a show where the laughs are few and far between, for the fighters depicted here mostly seem sullen, sad and painfully aware that they're involved in a Darwinian mortification of the flesh. That knowledge binds them to one another, and men touch each other in the world of boxing with an ease you don't see anywhere else. Referees, doctors, trainers and the fighters themselves interact with one another with a kind of brokenhearted tenderness.
"Someday they're gonna write a blues song just for fighters," observed 1962 heavyweight champ Sonny Liston, whose tragically difficult life ended in 1970 when he died of a heroin overdose. "It'll be for slow guitar, soft trumpet and a bell."
"Boxing" is on view through September 4 at Paul Kopeikin Gallery, 138 N. La Brea Ave.; (323) 937-0765. Open Tuesday Saturday, 11 a.m.5:30 p.m.