There has been some head-clashing in the past week between Alex Ariza and Manny Pacquiao, and it continues today with Ariza publicly criticizing the way that Pacquiao trained for Saturday's fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. Late last week, it was reported that the two had an argument that resulted in Manny breaking a glass and throwing his cell phone, and today, Ariza had this on the camp experience this time around with Manny:
"[Manny] looked good but his body didn’t cooperate with him again last night. His balance was off, he looked very ordinary, nothing special. He was exposed. ... I don’t want to make excuses about leg cramps but our fights are getting worse and worse ... we are starting to go in reverse. Unless we get back to what we did in the beginning I don’t see how we are going to progress."
Ariza says this is three straight fights that Manny has slacked on his tough conditioning program in camp, and that after Saturday's performance, Pacquiao has told him that they'll be going back to the old ways that kept Manny so destructive in fights with Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto.
You know, I said something in the second look article this morning that I really believe in. I think at some point, be it in camp or on fight night, Manny Pacquiao let himself look past Juan Manuel Marquez just a bit. And I think that's natural given the way he'd been dominating everyone since the last time those two fought in 2008. He's lost maybe five rounds in total in the last three and a half years. Anyone starts believing their own hype when they become that dominant. It's not a shot at Manny the person, just to say that he's human.
When a human being gets on a roll like that, they start thinking they're indestructible. This happens in all sports, in business, in relationships, in every aspect of life. It's not unique to Manny Pacquiao. They make movies about this sort of thing all the time. In the movies, the character tends to redeem his or herself. Manny, if Ariza is telling the truth, sounds like he wants to admit his mistakes and change them.
Ariza also says that both he and Pacquiao want a fourth shot at Marquez. I think from their side, internally, there's genuine disappointment with how the fight went and a serious desire to finally beat Marquez convincingly. I think this is something that is going to gnaw at Manny a little bit, which is not something we often see his usual happy-go-lucky persona, but this is a man who haunts him every time his star rises. After he trounced Barrera, Marquez neutralized him. After he'd risen to generally being ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound, Marquez neutralized him. After Pacquiao had become a global superstar and one of the biggest money men in the sport, Marquez neutralized him.
And I think it's great that Manny still has that desire to prove, perhaps largely to himself, that he's the better fighter. What Marquez wants to do is anyone's guess right now, but I think Top Rank might come with an offer he simply can't refuse. If a fourth fight happens, he's going to get another career-best payday, and if they have honor, they'll fork over that $10 million he was promised for a fourth fight if he'd won the third bout. He didn't get his hand raised, but he showed his value.