By Chris Robinson
It was about this time last year that tensions boiled over between strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza and veteran trainer and cut man Miguel Diaz, during the lead-up and aftermath of the Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana bout at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 10th, 2010.
[Reader’s note: For a complete recap of the Diaz-Ariza feud from December 2010 please visit Ariza explains his beef with Diaz and Diaz responds to Ariza ]
And in the wake of Manny Pacquiao’s November 12th over Juan Manuel Marquez, the two men seem to be at odds yet again, although this time in a milder fashion.
Ariza serves as Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach and Diaz has worked his corner as a cut-man dating back to the Filipino star’s December 2008 upset over Oscar De La Hoya. What was peculiar about the third go-round between Pacquiao and Marquez nearly three weeks ago was that Ariza was working Manny’s cuts during the fight while also surprising many by offering up instructions in-between rounds.
In recent interviews with FightHype.com and BoxingScene.com, Ariza offered up his explanation for his newfound role and actions in the corner and took credit for properly stopping the bleeding on a cut that had appeared to form above Pacquiao’s right eye in the 10th round.
But recognition didn’t seem to be enough, as Ariza also took a swipe at Diaz while offering up a vague accusation that he hadn’t properly addressed the cut.
“Well, I’m more upset with Miguel as well,” Ariza would say in referencing Pacquiao’s gash. “Miguel didn’t man up and say ‘Hey, I missed it. I missed the cut. I didn’t see it’.”
That statement above obviously didn’t sit too well with Diaz, who painted a completely different picture when recounting his Pacquiao-Marquez III experience.
We recently caught up with Diaz, who spoke from Barry’s Boxing in Las Vegas, Nevada as he was getting ready for another session with Cuban featherweight Luis Franco, and he shared his side of the story.
Speaking without animosity and more so disbelief towards Ariza, this is Diaz’s ringside view of the fight and how everything played out…
Signs of blood…
“He’s talking about how I didn’t see the cut but actually I didn’t see the cut, he didn’t see the cut and nobody saw the cut until Pacquiao came into the corner. I tried to start and by the third or fourth round I noticed blood on his mouth. At that particular time in the fourth round I called Ariza and he said ‘Ah, it’s nothing’. But it wasn’t, there was blood. The guy didn’t want to get out of the corner.”
Why Ariza was working the corner instead of Diaz…
“If I would have started to go and just push him out of his position I would have started a problem, so I said ‘Ok Ariza’. I got my medicine and I gave it to him and I told him to put it wherever he felt there was a cut and see what happens. Eventually he goes up there and the blood was stopped. But in the meantime, in the sixth round, I put another swab and I told him ‘Ariza, if in case he bleeds again, here is another swab with the medicine ok?’.”
Stopping the cut after the tenth round…
“By the tenth round, he went up there and then he said to me ‘Miguel, give me a dry towel’. I didn’t even question him, I grabbed a dry towel and I threw it to him. When he came down out of there, remember I’m down in the corner and I didn’t know what he was doing in the face, the towel came out with a lot of blood and I say ‘Ariza, what the hell is this?’. He said that he got cut in the eye. I said ‘Son of a b!tch’ and told him that I had to go up there and he said ‘Yeah, yeah, go up there’. So I went up there, I got my medicine, I put it in the eye, and the eye didn’t bleed until the fight was over.”
Doing a job in sixty seconds…
“After the fight I made a joke when the doctor who operated on Pacquiao, he did a great job because he did like a cosmetic surgery. They had stitches in the bottom, stitches in the middle, I don’t know if they said six or eight stitches on the cut. He stitched inside out, you know what I mean? But I made a joke, the doctor was there and everyone was there but Ariza wasn’t there, I don’t know where he went. I said ‘Doctor, how long are they going to take with this?’ and he said about 45 minutes and one hour and I said ‘Hey, this is how good I am. What I do in sixty seconds, the doctors take an hour to close the cut’.”
Ariza taking credit for stopping the cut…
“Now when I read this article I say ‘Look at this guy’. We had a big problem the day of the Maidana and Khan. The thing was over. I make no peace, but I didn’t want to create no problems. I was happy working with Pacquiao and every round I help him in the corner just to help him like a team worker. I don’t want to fight with [Ariza] because I know he wants to lead the corner. I closed another one and now he wants credit like he is the one who closed the cut. And on top of that, [he says] ‘Miguel is a coward because he didn’t want to tell anybody’. He didn’t see the cut either. Go and watch the tape again and you will see almost two minutes into the tenth round. That’s what happened in that fight.”
Expect more from Diaz in the coming days as he gives his thoughts on why Pacquiao didn’t look as sharp against Marquez and also weighs in on this weekend’s rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito…
[Reader's note: Continue on for the latest images from the boxing world Reliving Pacquiao-Marquez III / Photo-journalist Chris Robinson captures the boxing world / HBO's 24/7 Cotto-Margarito, part 2 ]
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected]