By Chris Robinson
While it’s pretty much a given that the Nov. 23 Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios pay per view showdown will create some form of excitement, there are some subplots surrounding the fight that have begun to draw headlines of their own.
The former WBA lightweight champion of the world and one of the most charismatic figures in the sport, Rios has added outspoken strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza to his team as he prepares for the challenge of Pacquiao.
Ariza created a name for himself in boxing largely due to nearly five years of assisting Pacquiao in his training camps. During that time, the results Ariza was able to produce with Pacquiao were unquestioned yet he also had a way of creating attention because of his brazen approach to all aspects of the sport.
Last month, it was revealed that Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach had elected to remove Ariza from the Filipino superstar’s team, thus paving the way for a union with Rios. Ariza has also been working with former featherweight champion Mikey Garcia down in Oxnard as well, as he prepares for his HBO date with Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez.
Curious for how things have been shaping up during the early stages of Rios’ camp, I touched base with his trainer and former world champion Robert Garcia.
And while Garcia was quick to point out the benefits of bringing Ariza onboard, he made it very clear that he isn’t looking for any kind of drama or backlash to follow suit.
Continue reading before for all of Garcia’s thoughts.
Adding a few new elements to Brandon Rios’ training…
“We are nine weeks away from the fight and training is going great. As everybody already knows, we added a few different things to the gym which is helping out really good with Brandon, with his morning workouts. Brandon was one of those fighters where he ran everyday but never ran like other fighters do, with different routines. With mountains, with stairs, on the track, and stuff like that. Now we’re doing that and it’s helping him a lot. He’s looking very, very good.”
The benefits of brining in Alex Ariza into the camps of Rios and Mikey Garcia…
“Just the fact that they’ve got somebody else talking to them and somebody they know has done a great job with other fighters. It’s something that helps not only them but myself and my Dad. Because, normally, with Mikey and Brandon, they started their whole careers with us. They already have certain things that they want each day. With a new voice, you have to do it because that’s why he’s there. That’s helped a lot. Those guys have never did swimming before and now they’re doing swimming and just so many different things that they had never done. Maybe if I would have told them ‘We’re going to start swimming’ they would have laughed at me but Ariza tells them at five in the morning and they go swimming. I think that fact that it’s somebody else giving them instructions is helping them out.”
Not putting up with any kind of drama from Ariza in camp…
“Believe me, the moment that he does, we’ve already told him and Brandon already knows, that moment that he causes any drama to our team or to our camp, that’s the moment we would either put a stop to it or get rid of him. He knows that. That’s the first thing we told him. Everybody around boxing, that’s what everybody says. ‘This guy’s no good. This guy is going to create this.’ Nobody else is going to hire you, so you better get things right. My team is my team. You’re not going to get involved with my team, you’re not going to work my corner, you’re not going to run the show. I run the show. And Brandon tells him every day.”
Creating a great team…
“I think we’re going to create a good team. If he does what he’s told and just does his job and doesn’t get involved with nothing else; all he has to do is just do his stuff, then we should be able to create a great team. And believe me, there are a lot of other big names that are already approaching, calling me, and would like to work with us. Now the fact that they know that Ariza is with me, it will make things a lot easier for everybody.”
Getting to know Ariza…
“Look, I’ve talked to him, yes. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. All I’m interested in is him doing a good job with my fighters. That’s what interests me. I know that there are so many negative things that everybody has said about him. And believe me, not one person has said something good about him. That’s the thing. Not one person has ever told me anything good about him. Everybody tells me a negative thing. And believe me, it’s everybody, not just one person. But I like his work. He does a good job with the morning workouts. Mikey has been taking vitamins for the past two fights and Mikey says that he feels so good with those vitamins. Brandon is now taking them. I’m taking them too. Why not? If Mikey is feeling so good for the past two fights and now Brandon is doing it. Even I’m taking those vitamins.”
All that matters…
“Just workouts that I have never even seen a boxer do that they’re doing. It should help Brandon and Mikey get better when it comes to speed, being more explosive, faster, stronger. And all that matters to me is that the work is done and he does a good job. And I’m sure that nobody likes him, nobody wants him around. Everybody keeps telling me negative things about him. Well, he has to do things right. He can’t f*** up. He knows that this is probably one of his last chances. And he’s probably with the best team that there is right now in the world of boxing. He can’t f*** up. He was with the best team, with Roach. Whatever happened, they got rid of him with Pacquiao, with Amir Khan, and Chavez Jr. That was the best team then. I think now, we are, if not the best, one of the best out there. So it’s a good thing but he’s got to do things right. I don’t want no drama. I don’t want him getting the team in trouble or just creating things that are going to bring drama to the team. I don’t need that.”