Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach Waste No Time Replacing Alex Ariza

| by Alex Groberman

One of the most entertaining debates surrounding Manny Pacquiao’s rise to fame in the mid to late 2000s was always which strength and conditioning coach he owed his success to. From 2003 to 2007, the Filipino star worked with Justin Fortune. Then, between 2008 and 2013, he worked almost exclusively with Alex Ariza.

Because Pacquiao became a household name under Fortune’s reign, but wasn’t really recognized as one of the sport’s two top pound-for-pounder’s until Ariza’s, there were always questions regarding who deserved the most credit for molding the eight division champ into the fighter he ultimately became.

This year, after two consecutive losses and a lot of tension in camp, Freddie Roach fired Ariza. Interestingly, five years earlier, he was also the person who put Fortune out to pasture.

Now, with the Brandon Rios fight on the horizon and Pacquiao in need of a strength and conditioning guru, all involved have made a surprising move – they brought Fortune back into the fold.

During a recent interview with Boxing Scene, Fortune didn’t offer much insight on his return to Pacquiao’s camp.

“[I’m] coming over to help Manny, help Freddie put everything into harness,” he said. “My job will be to help Manny beat (Brandon) Rios”

When pressed on how things ended the last time they all worked together, Fortune didn’t take the bait: “Everything is fine and we want to get back to where we were. Freddie will do the boxing training, I will do the conditioning and Manny will do the fighting.”

How will this newly-mended relationship ultimately work out? Was Ariza to blame for Pacquiao’s 2012 downward spiral? Is Fortune the missing piece that can get Pacquiao’s train back on the tracks? Can he and Roach work together this time – or at least better than Roach and Ariza did towards the end of their run? We’ll all find out the answers to all those questions and more this coming November.