Manny Pacquiao has been preparing for weeks now for his welterweight showdown with Brandon Rios on November 24 at Venetian Macao in Macau, China. Bracing for perhaps the most important fight of his career, Pacquiao decides to hold his training camp in General Santos, outside the limelight and distraction of Metro Manila and Los Angeles.
But aside from the change in location, the Pacman is missing one key personnel in his corner. Strength and conditioning guru Alex Ariza is not anymore around. Worse, the disgruntled trainer has now found a new alliance in Robert Garcia, and yes, Pacman's next foe.
Ariza, who has been instrumental in Pacquiao's rise to the pound-for-pound kingship, shocked everybody around the boxing community following his decision to join Rios' camp. Sure, it may appear as a pure business decision on Ariza's part, but there's certainly a personal vendetta to be settled between the conditioning coach and his former prized fighter.
"Manny could have called me himself and told me over the phone in a dignified, professional and affectionate manner, and said ' hey bro I don't want to have any trouble in my camp at this time I'm just going to let you go. He didn't have to wait. He could have told me months ago instead of waiting for the last minute. He was not the one who did it he let Freddie do it over an internet chat," Ariza told Boxing Scene writer by Ronnie Nathanielsz.
With his glorious days with Pacman all but foregone memory, Ariza is looking to transform Rios into a machine that would bring Pacquiao down. Setting aside his feud with Freddie Roach, Ariza has built a name when it comes to giving his fighter adequate diet and strength & conditioning exercises.
After all, he was in Pacquiao's corner when the Filipino spitfire racked up five sensational wins over David Diaz (9th round TKO), Oscar De La Hoya (8th round TKO), Ricky Hatton (2nd round KO), Miguel Cotto (12th round TKO) and Antonio Margarito (12 round unanimous decision).
Rios, who is apparently desperate to score a big win against a boxing legend like Pacquiao at all cost, will now receive the full benefits of Ariza's comprehensive strength & conditioning plan, which includes the gruelling but potent plyometrics drills.
If you remember, Pacquiaos' remarkable agility, speed and power as he moved up in weight were products of Ariza's plyometrics drills. Sure, it was tiring as hell, but these exercises really helped Pacquiao become a fearsome punching demon inside the ring. However, Ariza soon became dispensable when Pacquiao decided not to do such kind of training anymore. The fighter's age might be a reason, but Roach's growing ego could be the other culprit that put an end on Pacman-Ariza partnership.
Facing Rios should be an easy picking for Pacquiao three months ago. However, with the arrival of Ariza in the Mexican's camp, Pacquiao is taking on a different menace, perhaps a more powerful and tactical Rios at fight night. Will Pacquiao regret his decision to abandon Ariza? Who knows? But on Nov. 24, expect a better Rios inside the ring.
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