Alex Ariza: Freddie Roach can't fire me

Jeff Gross

Is the strength and conditioning coach still with Team Pacquiao or not?

It's hardly the first time we've had a Manny Pacquiao-Freddie Roach-Alex Ariza drama, but it may be the last. Or maybe not. Though Manny Pacquiao recently tolled an ESPN Sports Nation chat that Roach had fired Ariza from their team, Ariza says that Roach can't fire him, because he works for the fighter, not for Freddie.

From Ronnie Nathanielsz:

"I haven't heard anything from Manny. How can Freddie fire me when I don't work for him? Everybody knows that the past two years I haven't worked for Freddie. ... I will give Manny a call and talk to him but you just never know."

Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KO) is set to face Brandon Rios on November 23 in Macao, and his entire training camp will take place in the Philippines. If Pacquiao really thinks Roach has fired Ariza, then clearly there is still something that needs to be made clear to Ariza, and it either needs to come from Pacquiao directly, or we may hear eventually that Manny delegated the responsibility for the decision to others on his team.

Though Pacquiao and Ariza haven't clashed quite as publicly as Roach and Ariza have on several occasions, there have been reports that Manny wasn't doing the work that Ariza wanted in camp in recent fights, which was never played up as a spat between the two, but by the sounds of things, Ariza has been more a presence than a coach in some recent bouts, as Manny has made the calls as to what he will and won't do. That's basically what Roach has said in interviews when Ariza is brought up, but who knows?

Ariza does believe that Rios (31-1-1, 23 KO) is a dangerous opponent for Manny, saying that it's a "serious fight," and that Rios is "very durable" and in his opinion, "punches harder than Marquez."

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