In an interview with The Philippine Star, strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza has more or less laid down the public challenge to Manny Pacquiao for his upcoming training camp, as Manny prepares to face Timothy Bradley on June 9 in Las Vegas, live on HBO pay-per-view. Pacquiao is reportedly set to begin camp on April 16.
Ariza says again that Pacquiao's last two training camps, which led to a boring win over Shane Mosley and a highly-disputed win over Juan Manuel Marquez, were not up to Manny's standards during their previous camps together.
It is pretty much impossible to read Ariza's quotes without feeling his ginormous ego bursting through your monitor, but let's give credit where credit is due: He's a good strength and conditioning coach, and he's gotten marvelous results out of Manny, and to a lesser extent, Amir Khan and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, plus Andrew Bynum, as later in the interview he mentions in great detail.
Now my greatest question, as I've stated before, is whether or not 33-year-old, 17-year pro boxer Manny Pacquiao can really do what he used to do. Guys get old. 33 isn't old, really, but he's had a long, hard pro career. Is it a matter of Manny lacking the same hunger, or just Manny getting older? Maybe both?
As for Ariza's knockout prediction, it's part of the challenge, basically. I'm reading this as him basically laying it out there now, so if Manny "disappoints" again, Ariza can just say Pacquiao didn't follow the scientific program.
I do believe that the Manny Pacquiao who fought David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto really could blow Bradley away in five rounds, because that's how explosive that version of Manny Pacquiao really was. It's just whether or not he physically can do that anymore. I'm leaning toward a no on that one, but your mileage may vary, as people used to say sometimes in these situations.