By Ronnie Nathanielsz
A superior court judge in Los Angeles has dismissed the defamation suit filed by Manny Pacquiao’s former strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza against Freddie Roach, who is Pacquiao's head trainer.
WestSide Today TV reported that judge Dalila Corral Lyons ruled that Roach’s statements were protected speech and indicated “it explicitly says its his (Roach’s) opinion.”
In his suit Ariza alleged that Roach made false statements implying that Ariza gave eight division world champion Pacquiao performance enhancing drugs.
Ariza filed the lawsuit in April 2014 and alleged that Roach slandered him in a video interview with reporter Radio Rahim some three months earlier and that the interview was posted on the internet.
In that interview, Roach was asked about Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios, who went 12 rounds with Pacquiao and failed a post fight drug test, and the trainer said “I know he has a new strength and conditioning coach (referring to Ariza) and I don’t get along with the guy.”
He claimed Ariza “used to give (Pacquiao) a drink every day before Manny worked out" and he had asked Ariza “What’s in that drink but he never told me" and added that he, not Ariza, "would be blamed if something went wrong, so in my opinion he’s a little shady. So he’s with that camp now (Rios) and it doesn’t surprise me that happened” in reference to Rios being found to have used a performance enhancer.
Westend TV quoted Roach’s lawyer Arthur Chapman who had argued that the trainer’s comments were nothing more than his "personal opinions to current, newsworthy topics,” praised the judge’s ruling.