by Ronnie Nathanielsz
Fighter of the Decade" Manny Pacquiao is bringing back his first strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune to replace Alex Ariza, who had earlier been fired by celebrated trainer Freddie Roach after a meeting with Pacquiao and adviser Michael Koncz in Macau at the kickoff of the media tour to promote the November 24 showdown with Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios.
After failing to get any response to his telephone calls and text messages - Ariza accepted an offer to train Rios for the Pacquiao fight stating that Pacquiao "left him no choice" because he had to earn a living.
Fortune who parted ways following a disagreement with Roach some years ago paving the way for the entry of Ariza, set up his own Fortune Gym in Los Angeles and was doing reasonably well before Pacquiao decided to re-unite with the former Australian heavyweight contender. Fortune is expected to arrive next Tuesday and will proceed to General Santos City where Pacquiao will train.
When asked whether Pacquiao would bring in a replacement for Ariza, Koncz the other day said there was no need and that Filipino trainer Buboy Fernandez and Nonoy Neri will handle the strength and conditioning training.
Fortune himself had told BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard earlier that he didn’t think Ariza brought anything to Pacquiao’s training camp except “tension” and that Pacquiao needed to concentrate on the Rios fight because all the pressure is on the eight division world champion and not on Rios.
Meantime, Pacquiao steps up his training for his WBO International welterweight title fight against the exciting Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios in Macau on November 24 when he spars with Ghana's undefeated IBF Continental Africa welterweight champion and newly crowned IBF International welterweight king Fredrick Lawson at his MP Towers Gym on Tuesday.
It will be the first serious sparring session for Pacquiao who last week sparred with General Santos townmate Marlon Alta after his South Korean sparring partner apparently had a difference with his manager and failed to show up.
Lawson who is ranked No. 5 in the IBF Intercontinental ratings won the IBF title with a twelve round decision over Georgia's strongman Georgi Ungiadze in in what was described as "a rumble" which took place at the Jubilee Pool House, in the Ghananian capital of Accra in a fight that had fans on their feet throughout.
Media reports from Ghana said Ungiadze entered the ring to the tumultous chants of the accompanying small but noisy entourage of fans from Eastern Europe who reside in Ghana and the neighboring West African countries.
Ungiadze threw every punch he knew from the book and succeeded in pushing his archrival Lawson who is nicknamed "Sugar Ray" and at times referred to as "Marvelous" in a tribute to his Marvin Hagler skills , to the neutral corner but Lawson outboxed Ungiadze to win a lopsided twelve round decision.
Lawson won a gold medal in the 2007 African Boxing Championship and silver in the 2008 and 2009 Championships and represented Ghana in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.