By Edward Chaykovsky
Trainer Freddie Roach is not convinced that Juan Manuel Marquez is a natural fighter. BoxingScene.com posted photos last week of Marquez, who looked very muscular, bulked up and cut. At 39-years-old, Marquez's body looks better than it ever has in the past. Next Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Marquez will challenge Roach's fighter Manny Pacquiao for a fourth time.
Roach is suspicious because Marquez's strength and conditioning coach is Angel "Memo'' Hernandez, who once supplied illegal performance enhancing drugs to track stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery. Marquez started working with Hernandez before the third fight with Pacquiao a year ago. In their third meeting, Marquez was moving up by two weight division but easily withstood all of Pacquiao's punches and often stood toe to toe with the Filipino star.
"If [his body] is natural, I will kiss his ass,'' Roach told USA Today. "[Marquez] has gotten bigger and gained weight — it throws up a red flag. I've been accused so many times of my fighters being on steroids (that) I hate to accuse other people. But it is part of our life, part of the world we live in,'' Roach said.
While Roach has his own thoughts, Pacquiao's conditioning coach, Alex Ariza, is friends with Hernandez and does not believe there are any illegal activities going on.
"Memo is brilliant — I don't have any suspicions. When you get someone like that who knows the science of exercise and nutrition . . . well, we saw a whole different fighter when he fought Manny last time. It's not because (trainer) Nacho Beristain is teaching (Marquez) something new. It is because Memo now has Marquez's confidence. He has done things to his body. He has taken a good fighter at 39 and completely evolved him," Ariza told USA Today.
Roach claims that he wanted both boxers to take part in random drug testing, but Top Rank was not on board. Top Rank CEO's Bob Arum told the paper that neither side ever made a request for random testing.