“When people show loyalty to you, you take care of those who are with you. It’s how it goes with everything. If you have a small circle of friends, and one of those friends doesn’t stay loyal to you, they don’t stay your friend for very long.” John Cena
By Alex P. Vidal
A LOT of Manny Pacquiao fans have expressed apprehensions that his former conditioning coach who now works for the enemy “might reveal Pacquiao’s strong points and expose his weak points” to Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s camp.
Alex Ariza left the Team Pacquiao on a sour note three years ago after a falling out with Freddie Roach, his former boss in the Wild Card Gym, for breach of schedule policy.
Because the rift was kept under wraps from the media, there was a guessing game as to whether the separation was true or not.
The bad blood between Pacquiao’s two top caliber trainers was confirmed when a melee broke out inside the gym in Macao before the fight between Pacquiao and Brandon Rios on Nov. 24, 2013.
Ariza, 43, a Colombian, tried to kick Roach, 55, during a heated word war when the American coach and Team Rios disputed the schedule of the training gym.
Ariza’s departure from the Team Pacquiao became crystal clear to all unsuspecting fans: he was now working for Team Rios.
The training camp imbroglio was not a gimmick to drumbeat the Pacquiao-Rio fight.
Ariza really was determined to eat alive his former superior in the Team Pacquiao.
The episode was even captured by a Chinese TV.
I first had an inkling that something bad was brewing up in the Team Pacquiao coaching staff in 2009, days before Pacquiao TKO’d Cotto in 12.
Dr. Allan Recto, a Texas-based pediatrician, Ariza and I had a lunch at the Jollibee in Las Vegas (We all ordered Chicken Joy).
Ariza was saying something unsavory about some people in the Team Pacquiao. I never bothered to press him for details but I could sense he wasn’t happy.
Several months later Ariza was involved in a scuffle with Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s most trusted legal adviser, when they were in Baguio City where Pacquiao trained for his fight against Antonio Margarito in Arlington, Texas on Nov. 13, 2010.
Ariza allegedly punched Koncz during an argument.
The Canadian lawyer did not retaliate.
He denied Ariza attacked him. Koncz decided “not to make a mountain out of a molehill” and did not press charges. Case closed.
It was when Ariza went back to the United States for unclear reasons and abandoned Pacquiao’s training camp in the country’ summer capital that reportedly infuriated Roach.
He fired Ariza.
But there was no official confirmation of Ariza’s sacking.
We heard it only in the whispers.
Ariza officialy joined Team Pacquiao when the world’s best boxer pound-for-pound pounded out a controversial 12-round split decision win in a rematch against Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas on March 15, 2008.
Ariza was no longer with the Team Pacquiao when Juan Manuel Marquez kayoed in 5 Pacquiao on December 8, 2012.
When Mayweather Jr. started to rev up for his May 2 “Fight of the Century” duel against Pacquiao, he confirmed Ariza would be his conditioning coach.
The revelation sent shivers down the spine of Pacquiao fans who feared Ariza would leak to the enemy camp the Filipino congressman’s training secrets.
There is nothing to be leaked, in the first place.
Ariza is in charge only of the fighter’s conditioning, his diet, exercises and stamina, not how the fighter should deliver his killer uppercuts and hooks.
He will merely apply to Mayweather Jr. the formula of conditioning he had applied to Pacquiao.
In fact, hiring Ariza is not necessary for Team Mayweather.
The undefeated American champion had the best conditioning coaches in the past.
Mayweather Jr. only probably hired Ariza in order to out-psyche Roach, et al.
The brash-talking black fighter only probably wanted to send a curt message to Team Pacquiao: I know where the dead bodies are buried.
Ariza is not a security threat to Pacquiao.
He won’t guide Mayweather’s jabs to the Filipino ringster’s jaw and breadbasket that would result in Pacquiao’s imminent defeat on May 2.
Because of his good relationship and memories with Pacquiao, Ariza can’t afford to wish for Pacquiao’s destruction.
His role in Mayweather’s training camp is purely job-related.
He was hired for his professional services.
Even Pacquiao won’t take it against Ariza, who won $10,000 when Pacquiao sponsored a weight contest for all members of the boxer’s La Bria household in Los Angeles in 2009.
Fans will start to worry only if it was Buboy Fernandez or the maestro Roach himself who abandoned Pacquiao and shifted to the enemy camp.
But this scenario is now next to impossible. It won’t happen.
Fernandez is Pacquiao’s childhood friend. They treat each other like brothers.
Roach is like Pacquiao’s father.
The many-time trainer of the year became a byword in world boxing because of Pacquiao.
Ariza’s interest may be with Mayweather Jr., his new boss, but his heart probably is still with Pacquiao, who treated him more than a human being during a four-year ring partnership.