By Luis Sandoval
As the days draw nearer for Brandon Rios and Manny Pacquiao to square off on November 23rd in Macau, China, more underlying stories appear to be developing. One of the biggest ones is that Rios is now working with Pacquiao’s former strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza in preparation for this fight.
Ariza has worked with Pacquiao since 2008 when Pacquiao was preparing for his rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez. Since then, Ariza had been instrumental in preparing Pacquiao for his fights and the constant moves up in weight classes throughout the years. But in a surprising turn of events, Ariza was fired from Team Pacquiao and since then his services are now being used by Rios.
BoxingScene caught up with Brandon in Oxnard and was asked if bringing in Ariza was done to be able to have an advantage over Pacquiao knowing Ariza had worked closely with him for the last 6 years.
“Honestly it’s just that me and Robert [Garcia] made the decision. I don't make decisions by myself. Robert asked me and I said 'it’s up to you Robert, whatever you want, I'm down'. So Robert said yes and we both made the decision together and decided it would be best for us” said Rios.
“It’s not because 'Oh, he knows Pacquiao very well' or stuff like that. Ariza hasn't told us anything about what Pacquiao does wrong or stuff like that. He hasn't said sh*t like that. We're not worrying about that. We're not cheaters. We don't need him [to tell us] his game plan or what Pacquiao does wrong. We don't need that”.
For Rios the hiring of Ariza is strictly to get himself in the best physical shape possible and given how good Ariza has worked with other fighters, it made sense to bring him in. While many might think hiring Ariza will be a mental edge knowing Pacquiao will look across the ring and see his former conditioning coach, that’s not the case. According to Rios, Ariza will not be working his corner on fight night as that’s not his role in this camp.
“[Ariza] just does great exercise [and preparation]; that's what he does. His job is to get my physically strong and that's it. He's not in the corner, he's not doing nothing [else]. Robert and Donald [Leary] are the ones in the corner and [Robert’s] dad. So that's what it comes down to” Rios would tell BoxingScene.
Rios says working with Ariza has been very beneficial and he already feels physically strong and ready.
“Ariza does great work. He knows what he's doing and he's feeding us right. He has great exercises, great vitamins; he's got everything great” informed Rios.
Rios will be fighting for the first time in the Welterweight division and we’ll see if Ariza is able to provide him the same preparation he afforded Pacquiao when he ventured into new weight classes.
You can follow Luis Sandoval on Twitter and Instagram on @Truewest007.