By Lem Satterfield
BoxingScene.com caught up to strength trainer, Alex Ariza, who has just returned from Baguio City, Philippines, where he and five-time Trainer of The Year, Freddie Roach, were working with eight-division titlist Manny Pacquiao, in preparation for the May 7 defense of his WBO welterweight belt against Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
Ariza will be in his seventh fight working with the 32-year-old Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 knockouts), who will be after his 14th straight victory and his ninth stoppage during that run when he meets the 39-year-old, three-division, five-time champion, Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs).
Pacquiao is coming off of November's unanimous decision ex-titlist, Antonio Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs), which earned him the WBC's junior middleweight belt, which Pacquiao has since relinquished.
Prior to that, Ariza was first with Pacquiao when the Filipino super star debuted with a lightweight, ninth-round stoppage of David Diaz for that division's WBC crown in June of 2008, his December, 2008, welterweight debut that was an eighth-round knockout of Oscar De La Hoya, and, a May, 2009, second-round stoppage of England's Ricky Hatton for the IBO junior welterweight trinket.
Pacquiao then dethroned WBO champ, Miguel Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) with a November, 2009, 12th-round knockout, and decisioned ex-champion, Joshua Clottey (35-4, 20 KOs) in the March, 2009, first defense of that title before defeating Margarito.
BoxingScene.com spoke to Ariza to discuss Pacquiao's strength training for Mosley in this Q&A.
BoxingScene.com: How has training gone for Manny Pacquiao for Shane Mosley?
Alex Ariza: I'll be honest with you. It's always funny because I get asked the same question and I always revert back to like four years ago, when I first started working for Freddie.
He always told me, 'Never prepare a guy based on his last fight.' So, in other words, I don't look at Shane Mosley's fight with Sergio Mora or with Floyd Mayweather.
I look at Mosley knocking out Antonio Margarito or beating Oscar De La Hoya twice. So that's the Shane Mosley that I'm expecting. From a training standpoint, that's how I'm training Manny.
To be honest with you, this camp, I thought that the Miguel Cotto camp, since I have been with Manny, that was the best camp that we had ever had. But this camp, and his level of intensity and his focus has been above even that.
So, when I was trianing him for Miguel Cotto, I was the one who was setting up the the drills and the isometric and the plyometrics and the general workout.
This time, however, it's Manny saying, 'Alright, this is what I want to do.' Manny's like, 'I want to have track work,' and, 'I want to have this, and, 'I want to have that.' He's setting up all of those things.
BoxingScene.com: When you do your strength training do you do it based on who Manny is or more toward who his opponent is or a combination?
Alex Ariza: Absolutely. I do. You have to base it, not solely, on who is opponent but it does play a major role and factor into what I do from that standpoint.
BoxingScene.com: As oppoosed to Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito, what, in Manny Pacquiao, has to become manifest from his training translate into the ring against Shane Mosley?
Alex Ariza: Physically, I'm trying to get Manny to push himself to put Shane Mosley into a position or a pace that he's not comfortable with, and then, for Manny to go above and beyond that pace.
BoxingScene.com: How is that any different from the previous three opponents that Manny Pacquiao has faced?
Alex Ariza: Well, I think that for Miguel Cotto, for sure, we did everything that as a conditioning coach we wanted to do. I thought that the way that we built up his body was suffiencent and I felt that everything was there.
We felt like if he had to weather a storm that might come or be able to push himself, again, above and beyond Miguel Cotto's comfort level of performance, that he would be able to do that.
BoxingScene.com: Can you go back to the Miguel Cotto fight and choose points in that fight where Manny Pacquiao's training came into play?
Alex Ariza: Absolutely. I think that for the Miguel Cotto fight, that he was very smart, and his conditioning was perfect. I mean, it was a tough fight because Miguel Cotto showed up and was in shape.
He wasn't emaciated and wasn't gaunt. He showed up perfect also. But prior to that, we knew that Miguel Cotto was such a vicious body puncher. So, for me, I needed to develope a very important core situation for Manny.
I wanted Manny to be able to absorb a very early assault of a possible Miguel Cotto body attack. So I thought that that was the game plan for Miguel Cotto, so that was my focus.
I focused also on speed and footwork and all of that as I brought Manny down from 150 to 144 pounds or 143 or whatever Manny weighed in at.
BoxingScene.com: What got Manny Pacquiao through that body assault from Antonio Margarito in the sixth round of his last fight?
Alex Ariza: You know, I'm going to have to say that we went the other way with that. I'm going to say that we neglected a lot of the things that we had done for the Miguel Cotto fight.
I think that Manny did too much too close to the fight, and that that's where we suffered. I think that if we had prepared ourselves for Antonio Margarito the same way that we did for Miguel Cotto, that Manny would have knocked Margarito out.
I think that with all of the political distractions and with being a new congressman and things like that, that the distractions took a lot away from our normal way of preparing ourselves. This time, that hasn't been the case.
We know that Shane Mosley is dangerous. I think that everybody knows that Shane Mosley is dangerous. Being with Freddie Roach for four years, I start to look at fighters the same way.
I look at where they originated and their pedigree and where they came from.
BoxingScene.com: In what way?
Alex Ariza: You know, Shane Mosley came up in Pamona, Calif. So he grew up fighting big, strong guys that came straight ahead. Manny comes straight ahead. So Manny could be made to order for Mosley.
The fight, for people who understand boxing and stuff like that, it can be a very dangerous fight. I think that Shane Mosley is extremely dangerous. He's got a tremendous amount of skill and experience.
Obviously, look at his amateur background. Shane Mosley has fought guys like Manny before who come straight ahead and he's got a big right hand. Floyd Mayweather is the best defensive fighter in the sport.
Nobody can argue that. But he hit Floyd Mayweather and staggered him in the second round. So, if you can hit Floyd Mayweather, then you can hit anyone.
BoxingScene.com: What from Manny Pacquiao's training has to manifest itself in this fight against Shane Mosley?
Alex Ariza: I think that we have to go back to what we did from the beginning. I mean, the Joshua Clottey fight, that wasn't the best fight. And I think that we suffered in the Antonio Margarito situation because we did too much too close to the fight.
There were so many distractions, and by the time that we got here, we were trying to make up for lost time. So, we got back to what we did against Miguel Cotto. You know, Manny respected Miguel Cotto.
Manny knew that he was very technical and formidable and strong. So Manny respected him. I think that Manny respects Shane Mosley. I know that he does. So his mental approach is going to be different.
BoxingScene.com: What will we see in the Shane Mosley fight that will be replicated from the Miguel Cotto fight in Manny Pacquiao?
Alex Ariza: Manny is an exceptional athlete, and he is going to be that whether I'm there or not. But the thing about Manny is that he has that resiliency to break your will. He's going to push you above and beyond what you're used to.
And he's going to make you uncomfortable. It's going to be a battle of wills. So, with Miguel Cotto, around the fourth or fifth round, it became that battle of wills.
But I think that, at that point, Manny demoralized Miguel Cotto. Manny took his best shots. He exchanged punches with him, and, then, Miguel Cotto saw that there was nothing that he could do that he hadn't already done in those earlier rounds.
And then it just became academic. Miguel Cotto switched to survival mode. I think that the Miguel Cotto fight was the first time that you got to see what we had done over the first couple of years that we were training Manny.
That was the first time that you saw Manny really take it to another level. He picked up the intensity and he picked up the volume. He picked up the pressure. He just took it to the next level.
And that was after the eighth round or the ninth round. When you get into those championship rounds, that's where you see the work.