Alex Ariza's decision to focus on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr has left the Pacquiao camp questioning his dedication. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Alex Ariza, the big-talking strength and conditioning coach for Manny Pacquiao, has left the Pacquiao camp in order to help out Julio Cesar Chavez Jr ahead of his June 16 fight with Andy Lee, and the decision has caused quite a stir, namely with trainer Freddie Roach and promoter Bob Arum.
Here's what Roach had to say about the move:
"He's not a pro. What Alex has done is very unprofessional. He signed a contract to do a job and he practically rescinded that deal unilaterally. How can he do that? Worse, he made the decision because of money. That to me is unacceptable."
Roach is also Chavez's trainer, and he and Ariza also work together with Amir Khan, who is in the Philippines training with Pacquiao and Roach, as Khan is fighting Lamont Peterson on May 19. Overall, Roach and Ariza must be stretched pretty thin right now, with Khan fighting May 19, followed by Pacquiao on June 9, and then Chavez on June 16.
Roach says that he's willing to work with Ariza again if Pacquiao decides to keep Ariza on board, and Ariza says that Pacquiao gave him the green light to go work with Chavez temporarily. It doesn't seem like there's a big chance that there will be a split between Pacquiao and Ariza, but it's being talked about like it could happen. There were pretty legit issues between Pacquiao and Ariza leading up to the Juan Manuel Marquez fight in November, so there is some question here.
Local conditioning coach Marvin Somodio is working with Manny in the interim, according to PhilBoxing.com's Eddie Alinea, with Nonoy Neri helping with Pacquiao's road work.
Bob Arum also had something to offer to the Manila Bulletin on the subject. Arum and Ariza don't seem to have the most sparkling relationship, either, but frankly I'm not sure there's anyone he works with who does have any sort of real friendship with Ariza (which he might well prefer):
"That’s very unprofessional. ... There’s something with his attitude."
Two weeks ago on Twitter, Ariza spent a lot of time blasting Top Rank for taking away Brandon Rios' ability to win the $50,000 bonus after he missed weight, and did a lot of that "you people don't even know how hard these guys work" routine.
Even if Manny gave his blessing, and it seems he did, it's a bit of an odd move for the guy who keeps going on and on about Manny Pacquiao buying into his system again to bail on the training camp. I don't know if it really will matter much at all, and I can't pretend to know all the personal politics going on between all these guys, but we'll keep you updated on anything that changes, if anything does.