By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, who suddenly left the Baguio City training camp of pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao and former WBA light welterweight champion Amir Khan and returned to Los Angeles, states that he and Pacquiao had agreed that he could leave.
However, trainer Freddie Roach was surprised at the move of Ariza to leave both Pacquiao and Khan in the middle of training camp in order to train WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who defends his title against Andy Lee in El Psso, Texas on June 16.
As a result of Ariza leaving the training camp, Roach had to turn to former amateur fighter Marvin Somodio who has impressed Roach as a trainer and fitness instructor.
In an interview with BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard, after his arrival in Los Angeles, Ariza said “nothing went wrong. Manny and I will meet again here in a couple of weeks.”
When asked about the suddenness of his departure, Ariza replied “Manny asked me not to talk about it and just say hey, you know, he knows and I know and its just between us.”
Ariza added Pacquiao told him “see you in LA and to just make sure that I’m waiting for him there.”
Regarding Khan, Ariza said “he’ll be coming back with Manny (May 5 being the scheduled date). Khan faces Lamont Peterson in a rematch on May 19 at the Mandalay Bay Resort Hotel and Casino.
Reports of an internal rift began when Roach told reporters that he never knew Ariza was leaving the camp. According to Roach, he only learned about it when he was looking for his driver to take him to the Cooyesan Gym last Saturday and called, only to find out that he was with Ariza in Manila.
Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz refuted claims made by Ariza on boxing websites that Pacquiao was late for training camp ago. Koncz said Pacquiao, Roach and he sat down in New York during the press launch for the Timothy Bradley showdown and worked out the schedule. He said “we were to come to Baguio on April 14. Freddie authorized the two day delay to April 16 and Roach said it was no problem.”
Roach had also made it clear that Pacquiao was never late in starting training and they had agreed to push back the start of the Baguio training camp from April 14 to 16. Roach was here two weeks earlier with Ariza because they were getting Amir Khan ready for his title rematch with Peterson on May 19 and not to begin training Pacquiao.
Roach himself was pleasantly surprised that Pacquiao was in such excellent condition when they kicked off training in Baguio and indicated, according to Koncz, that he was “very impressed” with Filipino trainers Buboy Fernandez and Nonoy Neri who had done well to get Manny in shape while training in his hometown of General Santos City and Manila and that “everything was right on schedule.”
BoixngScene/Standard learned that Khan’s uncle, who is with him in Baguio, had requested Pacquiao to allow Khan to do roadwork along with him since he had been doing it alone and Pacquiao readily agreed. Pacquiao also offered Khan the use of all the plyometric material that he had purchased for flyweight contender Rodel Mayol and that if he wished, trainers Fernandez and Neri could help.