By Ronnie Nathanielsz
ALEX Ariza, the former strength and conditioning coach of Manny Pacquiao and who is now working with Floyd Mayweather Jr., doesn’t share the optimism of the Filipino ring icon that the mega-buck fight between the Fighter of the Decade and the undefeated pound-for-pound king will take place.
In an overseas telephone conversation with BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard/Viva Sports, Ariza said he had relocated to Las Vegas because Mayweather lives there, but that the undefeated champion hasn’t even started training for his next fight.
Pacquiao guaranteed BoxingScene/Manila Standard in an interview during the halftime break of the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup Game 3 Finals on Sunday, that there could be an official announcement made before the end of this month.
But Ariza said: “It takes more than saying the fight will happen. You have to be consistent and Manny needs to take other measures (to try and make the fight happen).”
He suggested that Pacquiao, who is “the most well-known boxer in the world should put his foot down, and give Top Rank promoter Bob Arum an ultimatum of 30 days to make the fight or tell him, ‘I’ll get another promoter.’”
Ariza emphasized that Pacquiao doesn’t need a promoter, even as he stressed that Mayweather “wants this fight so badly and is trying to make it happen, but Pacquiao needs to stand up for himself and do more than make statements in the media.”
Ariza, who served as strength and conditioning coach during Pacquiao’s run of victories over fighters like Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, among others, added: “We’ve all stayed quiet, (but) we want this fight so badly.”
Ariza for a time joined trainer Robert Garcia and handled the strength and conditioning of Brandon Rios, who fought Pacquiao when Manny returned from his crushing sixth-round knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez. Rios dropped a unanimous 12-round decision.
Ariza also handled Marcos Maidana, who fought Mayweather twice and lost.
“I really feel bad for the fans who would be completely disillusioned if the fight doesn’t take place. It’s been the same vicious cycle over the last four years,” said Ariza, insinuating that the stumbling block was Arum, but didn’t provide any evidence even as Pacquiao reportedly agreed to a 60-40 split in favor of Mayweather.
“I think it (the fight) will happen on May 2 because that’s what he (Mayweather) wants,” Pacquiao said on Sunday.
Meantime, Pacquiao’s longtime adviser Michael Koncz told BoxingScene/Manila Standard: “Relax my friend, I am doing my best.”
Koncz is known to have access to Mayweather following a visit to his gym a couple of years ago.
However, Koncz appeared a little surprised about Pacquiao’s statement that he expects an announcement to be made before the end of this month, saying, “Oh really!”