by Jenna J (transcribed by Michael Readman) I recently had a chance to speak with Manny Pacquiao’s former strength and conditioning coach, Alex Ariza, on the 200th edition of “On The Ropes.” Ariza (Head of Ariza Fitness) had worked with Pacquiao for 5 years and helped him rise the top of the pound for pound list. After being released by team Pacquiao, Ariza now finds himself in the unique position of now working at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy and helping prepare his new athlete, Brandon Rios, for battle against his former one.
Ariza spoke in detail on how his relationship with Freddie Roach deteriorated, and how he believes that effected the fighters in the gym. Alex also talked about his decision to take the job from Robert Garcia to work with his fighters, and in particularly, Brandon Rios. Lastly Ariza gave his thoughts on how a Pacquiao- Rios fight will ultimately play out. Here is what Alex Ariza had to say. (Posted at www.doghouseboxing.com)
Jenna J: Alex, earlier in the interview I mentioned the amount of time you worked at the Wildcard Gym with Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao, for the fans that are listening out there that don’t know that situation, can you let them know why that situation didn’t work out for you and you eventually had to part ways?
Alex Ariza: Obviously me and Manny parted ways, it wasn’t acrimonious between just Manny and I, it was obviously with Freddie. It was just very simple to me. After the last four fights I could see that Manny was declining rapidly and I butted heads with Freddie. I saw that Manny wasn’t training right.
I can’t just stand there and watch this guy, you see him declining, declining, declining so you have to at one point as a teacher stop and say “Okay, what do we have to do to change this?” Freddie’s ego just wouldn’t allow it, he just believes he can be this and be that. The problem was clear when you start to look at the track record of what was happening, not just with Manny but a look at what was happening to our world champions.
Jenna: Alex, tell me what champions you believe got effected by you not being in camp?
Alex Ariza: Freddie got me out of (Jorge) Linares’ camp because I was conflicted about the way he was training Linares. He got me out of there and he got Linares knocked out. I was conflicted about the way he was training (Viacheslav) Senchenko, I think he was the WBA welterweight champion, he got Senchenko knocked out by Malignaggi. He got me out of that camp. He got me out of Amir’s camp, he got Amir knocked out.
Ultimately, that was happening and I couldn’t just stand by and let it just keep going and going and going. This is the only sport in the world where this would have happened. Think about it, if this was baseball, football, he would of got busted down and I don’t even know if they would let him teach high school. Here he gets four world champions knocked out and nothing happens.
He physically couldn’t do it any more and there’s nothing wrong with that. You get older and unfortunately you have issues, but after six years since I’d been there I can just see him decline and it was happening so rapidly that it was now starting to effect the fighters.
Jenna J: You mentioned that Freddie was declining rapidly, when did you first see the decline and start noticing that?
Alex Ariza: I could see Freddie could no longer physically push the fighters the way he used to. These fighters are young and are high intensity. We have a very high intensity program, high volume and I could just see that Freddie couldn’t keep up with them, not to mention Julio Chavez Jr. Julio let him go because he physically couldn’t finish any more than a couple of rounds, there were too many breaks in the rounds. I could see it when it started happening when I stopped going into the Wildcard two years ago.
Jenna J: So basically Alex, what you’re saying is the decline of the fighters that have been working around Freddie isn’t really the fighters themselves, but it’s Freddie that isn’t able to push people like he used to because of his illness?
Alex Ariza: Yes, he just can’t push them. I also think he’s just became more of a celebrity trainer. All of the sudden the atmosphere in the gym is all about cameras and interviews, it’s not about training any more. Unfortunately this is Hollywood and people only want you around when you’re winning. The writing’s on the wall.
Jenna J: As far as Manny Pacquiao goes, and you being his strength an conditioning coach, you were still working with him while Freddie had you working with their fighters. Why do you think Manny started to decline in his results?
Alex Ariza: Again you always go back to the formula. When you find out that one variable is not in the formula any more. Mosley came, then it was Marquez, then it was Bradley and then it was Marquez again in those four fights. The only thing that I can always go back to is the one variable that was missing, and that was he was no longer working with my team, no longer doing strength and conditioning. Freddie wanted to control everything.
Jenna J: Being that you worked with Manny for so long, I know you don’t have any ill feelings towards him but to immediately to go to his opponents training camp, what are your feelings with that? You are basically training an opponent that could potentially end Manny Pacquiao’s career if he loses one more time.
Alex Ariza: There’s a flip side to that point; what about me? Don’t get me wrong it’s not all about me or anything like that, but what a lot of people don’t know is that I did reach out to Manny several times, I texted him. Honestly, when I found out that I wasn’t gonna be working with him any more I thought this is a great opportunity for me to take a break and to go on vacation and you know, do things that I wanted to do.
To be honest I always thought to go back to teaching again. I loved working with kids and I thought this doesn’t define me, this doesn’t validate my existence. If I end up teaching kick ball to first graders I’ll be happy with that. I’ve made a great living and I’m not really a high maintenance guy, so I don’t really need it.
Two days later Robert Garcia calls, I thought “Okay let me send a text out to Manny.” I sent the text out, my fiancé’s still really good friends with Jinkee (Pacquiao). Jinkee reached out to them and they are still talking and they said “Okay, lets have Manny call out,” and nothing came of it, days, days and days. I had to sit down with my team and ask how they felt, it wasn’t an easy decision, believe me. At the same time, my team has to eat too, we have bills, we have family. I just thought, I have another opportunity just like Robert says, “It’s not just Brandon that you’re gonna be working with.”
There’s a possibility of so many other big fighters coming out there that need us an could use us. Not just boxing but the science of it, the exercise, the conditioning, the nutrition, the hydration process that I have. Everything that we have, I have a team of specialists that really are second to none because of the background and the experience that they have. It was a hard decision but it was a business one.
Jenna J: It was more business than personal?
Alex Ariza: Of course, of course. Listen, if Manny would have called me up and just simply said “Hey bro, Freddie’s fucking nagging me for two weeks already about you.” I know this because Jinkee told me. Freddie’s out there just nagging and crying and crying and nagging and nagging like an old maid.
If Manny said listen, “Freddie’s nagging, let me just do this right on my own because apparently Freddie doesn’t want any strength and conditioning coaches,” which ironically they ended up having to hire one, but if he said, “sit this one out bro and we’ll talk when we’re done.” I would have left it alone.
Or when he found out I was training Brandon he could of called me up and said “Hey bro is it cool if you don’t take this fight against me, I don’t wanna go against you.” Out of respect for him and everything that he’s given me in terms of my career and things like that, I would have sat it out. He didn’t call me at all, he made no contact whatsoever.
Sometimes you have to sit there and think, this is sport. I’ve played baseball my whole life and if one of my friends ended up in a different college team and I ended up having to bat against him, that’s just the way it works out, it doesn’t mean I hate him. He’s got a job to do, I have a job to do, but at the end of the day when it’s over it’s just a sport.
I believe that friendship is the only choice in life that we have that is ours, you can’t pick your own family. Manny and I have been together through so many things for five years and I find it really hard that he didn’t call me. But I think that’s through something else. I’ll be honest with you I don’t know what it is.
Jenna J: Alex, now that you are working with one of Robert Garcia’s fighters and you are in particular working with Brandon Rios, when you look at him and you look at the work you’ve already done with him, honestly, in your opinion, how much of a chance does he have against Manny Pacquiao? A lot of people are not giving him much of a chance at all.
Alex Ariza: I’m not there to lose, I’m there to win. I think that because we have a really good team and we’ve been very successful with troubleshooting things and fixing things and bringing out the best in fighters. Manny Pacquiao whether people wanna believe it or not, was an ordinary fighter. Manny Pacquiao went from ordinary to extraordinary when we got there, and now he’s back to being an average fighter”
You guys are looking at Pacquiao as the Manny Pacquiao who beat Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. That’s the Manny Pacquiao that everybody has in their head, that’s the Manny Pacquiao that gives one hundred percent to me and my team. Now we have a new guy who I think that we can do the same thing with, he’s not an ordinary fighter.
Jenna J: What kind of mentality does Rios bring into this fight?
Alex Ariza: I think there’s nothing you can take from Brandon. He is resilient, he can take a punch, he has a lot of tremendous qualities. The one thing that was killing him that Robert told me was the weight and how they went about it. I think it says a lot about an athlete, especially boxers and boxing trainers that go out and they look for that one thing that could possibly change things.
They went to Memo Heredia and they looked at other strength coaches and sometimes it just doesn’t work, that’s why I said “We’ll just try it for two weeks and see if they like the kind of work that I do.” I think if you look at the books, Brandon was a 5/1 dog and as soon as our team got there he went down to a 3/1, so I think we have a better shot than you guys give us credit for, we’ll see on November 23rd.
Jenna J: One final question for you Alex, when Brandon Rios meets Manny Pacquiao in the ring, what do you expect to happen? Not just getting him into shape and not just getting him into condition. What is your official prediction and how do you expect that fight to ultimately play out?
Alex Ariza: I don’t make predictions, I think we learned a hard lesson that way you know, Freddie’s been making predictions for the last four of Manny’s fights and we end up with egg on our face. What I can tell you is that we are coming for a war. I’m training Brandon to fight the best Manny Pacquiao that there is, no excuses. We won’t have any excuses and we don’t want them to have any excuses, like “he was shot” or “Marquez ruined him” or this or that. When our hands are raised I don’t want to hear any excuses.
team mp will rise here we come watch out many will kick your ass rios and alex you can shut the hell up
poor English. what a shame
this is all about mind games
team mp will rise here we come watch out many will kick your ass rios and alex you can shut the hell up we will see u in the ring
Alex sounds correct. He based it on the outcome of latest Manny’s fights. In addition, he was a part of Manny’s Team during that recent fights.
As for Manny, it depend on him and his team to prove that Alex is wrong. I hope Alex is wrong, but the signs are there, that Manny is declining.
Yeah from reading this and listening to the interview I think he is being honest, there’s no denying that Wildcard fighters havent been doing as great and that doesn’t just happen for no reason.
Isn’t it the other way around? Who was Alex Ariza before he teamed up with Manny? This guy was very ORDINARY who became “feeling famous” when he was with Manny. Maybe he did great with Manny but let’s see if he could do the same with a really ordinary fighter.
PACQUIAO IS ALREADY A RISING STAR WHEN ARIZA JOINED THE TEAM….HE HAD ALREADY DEFEATED MORALES, BARRERA, LEBWABA, AND OTHER HALL OF FAMERS. ALTHOUGH HE LOST TO MORALES DURING THEIR 1ST ENCOUNTER, THAT WAS BECA– USE OF SOME FAVORS GIVEN TO MORALES, I.E..CHOICE OF GLOVES ETC…ETC.. ALEX IS A TROUBLESOME GUY…HE HAD A PAT WITH THE KHAN TEAM ABOUT A CERTAIN CONTRACT…HE MAYBE GOOD IN WHAT HE DOES BUT HE CAN ALSO BECOME A DISTRACTION…NO NO NO TO ALEX..
After manny beat up brandon rios!. this guy will be out of job!! keep running his mouth! who the fuck are you ariza? your nothing!!The shane mosley fight that dude goes to hugging mode after he got knockdown. bradley fight. keep on rinning the whole night. Marquez fight 3. manny landed more shot and out work him. last fight he beat him to the pulp until that luck punch landed!
The power of excuses wow. So let me get this straight. Manny couldn’t catch a guy running with two fractured ankles? The Marquez punch was lucky? It wasn’t timing, a skill Marquez has exhibited his whole career, but just pure luck.
don’t blame manny..just do ur job..
If Alex feels he owes a lot to Manny for his success and recognition and that he considers manny a close friend and that his fiancee and manny’s wife are friends and yadayadayada, wouldn’t common sense to turn down an offer that would put you against a friends position? You cannot call it business when a friend is involved. Youy just simply dont stab a freind in the back and call it business. That is Bulllsshiit.
You are full of shiiiittt Ariza. You are a nobody & Manny gave you a name… Maybe you are good in what you do but nothing is more important than Character & that is something you don’t have.. Maybe Manny is declining but the more you have to be on his back not to push him down. After all is said & done.. I hope you’ll learn your lesson. Robert Garcia just hired you because they knew you are up for SALE…. Your head clearly has a price tag on it…
IF Pacquaio is doping Ariza could say it now…
this guy is a friggin hypocrite. this is is the same guy who said that God himself could not help Marquez beat Manny on hbo 24/7 leading up to their third fight.now he says he doesn’t make predictions.what a loser!
This guy’s got a lot of nerve! Manny was already a 4 division champ when he came in. How can he say he was ordinary? Even the late Emmanuel steward praises pac’s early career more than the recent victories. Somebody said it right here in the forum: he’s got it backwards. Alex is an average conditioning coach. I’ve heard from reliable sources during the Cotto camp in 2009 that there were basic principles in physical conditioning he did not know about. He once got embarrassed by a local physician who corrected him on something very basic. He also couldn’t solve pac’s cramps. Plus, he’s divisive. Even Robert Garcia is saying no one as in no one has ever given ariza a good account. He actually admitted they are taking a risk in Alex. The guy’s delusional or…. Freddie’s right all along: ariza intentionally stirs controversy to keep him in the limelight. Poor guy.
First off great interview, Alex really gave good in depth replies of the stuff no one sees. I for one don’t see anything wrong with his decision. Like he said, he tried to reach out to Manny and he never got a reply. Is he supposed to forget about his career in boxing because of a falling out with Wildcard? No, of course not.
I think he proved his worth during his stay at Wildcard and thats not me saying that, a lot of fighters liked working with him. He has a lot to offer to the sport and at Robert Garcia’s gym he can certainly take the fighters to a new level. Much respect to Alex for being so honest about the situation.
I agree u bro
Ariza is the best strength coach in the sport bar none
One of the reason Ariza got kicked by Team Pacquiao was he cannot shut his mouth and do his job as a conditioning coach. He thinks that he should be the center of attaction. I never found a conditioning coach who wanted to be a frontliner. Go change your profession to a boxer or a writer.
We all know Bam Bam has a high output – the way to see if Ariza has improved Brandon is if the output improves. On the flip side it could be that Manny has slipped a tad more.
It will be hard to gauge from this fight.
There is nothing ordinary or average about being a 4 division champion, a pound-for-pound boxer, and a legitimate superstar in 2008. That was Manny’s stature before you joined his team Mr Ariza. He was champ at 19 y/o. A teenager! He didn’t need you then, he sure don’t need you now.
Alex is just doing his job… Hyping the fight.
That’s just plain wrong. Every knowledgeable boxing experts will tell you that the best body of work Manny Pacquiao did was when he was in the lower weight class, hint – pre boastful ariza. He destroyed some of the best Mexican boxers we’ve known active at that time. Moving up in weight, Pacquiao just used his speed against the lumbering giants. I really hate this very conceited ariza.
Alex should have also think that his friend pacquiao could get KO by Rios and it is his fault.
What kind of person are you? you love money better than your friend.. tsk tsk
this guy is nothing, he just proved that roach accusations were true. anyway you will fall someday,,friend.
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What signs are we talkin’ here that Manny is declining or y’all just agreeing with other peoples opinion?
What signs of decline that Manny had? Truth be told that a lot of people wanted a piece of the pie and promised to go to WAR with Pacquaio then end up running away from Pacquaio! Mosely promised to go to WAR but retracted! Is that Pacquaios fault? Clottey promised WAR as well but refused to exchange. Is that Pacquaios fault? Bradley promised to go to WAR as well with Pacquaio but started running away! Now Pac vs Marquez 4, we all know that Pac was manhandling Marquez before that SUPERPUNCH all of a sudden courtesy of MEMO! Lennox Lewis was KTFO and so di Mares, are they declining? I would understand if Marquez was devouring Pacquaio on their 4th meeting then knock’d him out then that would be a whole different story.
Pacquiaos is still fast and dangerous!
I will admit that Pacquaio didnt look good fighting fighters that runs away from him but you cant blame him cause these people promised to go to WAR with Pacquaio! But when was the last you seen Pacquaio got brutally beat and manhandled by another fighter? WE ALL KNOW THAT MARQUEZ LANDED BRUTAL PUNCHES ON PACQUAIO MANY TIMES BUT THE DIFFERENCE ON THEIR LAST MEETING, MARQUEZ PUNCH WAS MORE HEAVIER! IF MARQUEZ WAS A BASEBALL PLAYER THAT WOULD MEAN, EVERY AT BATS ITS A HOMERUN!!! HAHAHAHA!!!
Really? He’s responsible for Pacquiao’s success?? I didn’t read this article (only the headline) because this guy’s a joke. I would love for someone to shut this guy up.
[…] an interview with the show “On the Ropes”, the Colombian explained why, and of course, he got himself in the middle of […]