Manny Pacquiao’s camp has always had a lot of infighting. Even before his losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, there were always whispers of Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza not getting along, both of them clashing with Bob Arum, Michael Koncz irritating everyone and so and so forth. To some degree, it was normal. Boxing people aren’t exactly known for their inherent coolness under pressure and ability to acquiesce to competitive, egomaniacal personalities. On a different level, though, it was a bit bizarre. Pacquiao has always been known as a guy easily influenced by outside factors, and it always seemed a bit weird that these guys couldn’t table their nonsense for the greater good of the team.
Still, for as long as Pacquiao kept winning, it made sense to keep the structure intact. Why mess with a good thing, right? Well, yeah. Unfortunately, that good thing ceased being a good thing last June – and it got worse this past December.
Realizing that it was time for a change, according to Yahoo! Sports, Roach fired Alex Ariza recently. The move is mildly shocking just because of what an important role Ariza played in Pacquiao’s career during its peak, but once you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
It really was time to make some modifications to the Filipino champ’s camp, and it’s undeniable that his legs haven’t been the same over the past few fights. That’s Ariza’s department. While you can make the case that Roach hasn’t been doing a great job either as of late, there is no way Pacquiao will pull an Amir Khan at this point.
"I had a discussion with Manny and I told him that I had a lot of trouble working with Alex, because he was always trying to do everyone else's job," Roach said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports. "I told him that Miguel Diaz had told me he would not work with Manny as his cutman if Ariza was around. As I said, he wanted to do everyone's job but his own. I told Manny it was hard for us to work with him.
"Manny said, 'You're the boss. You hired him.' When he said that, I fired him."
This doesn’t really have anything to do with anything, but it’s worth noting that all of the PED accusations that surrounded Pacquiao in his heyday was the direct byproduct of Ariza’s involvement. Between his firing and the announcement this week that Pacquiao agreed to VADA testing, it’ll be interesting to see what the conspiracy theorists come up with.
At the end of the day, this was the right move for all involved. Ariza’s act had grown stale. Pacquiao didn’t seem to care much if he stuck around, one way or the other. And Roach clearly had enough. Does it mean that Pacquiao will defeat Brandon Rios? No, obviously. But it allows him to change things up without changing them up too much, and that’s just what the doctor ordered for a guy coming off back-to-back defeats.