Manny Pacquiao and Alex Ariza did some great work together. Regardless of whether you think that was primarily because of how talented the former is, or how great a strength and conditioning coach the latter is, the results speak for themselves. While Ariza was part of Pacquiao’s camp, the Filipino star enjoyed his most successful and dominant run in boxing.
Of course, what comes up must go down. Over the past year, Pacquiao and Ariza experienced back-to-back losses for the first time since they began working together. Moreover, Pacquiao didn’t look particularly impressive versus Shane Mosley or in the third bout against Juan Manuel Maruqez. While the Mosley situation could be attributed to him running around the ring, trying to evade Pacquiao, the Marquez performance was just plain bad – no ands, ifs, or ors about it.
There were always whispers about Freddie Roach and Ariza butting heads, but so long as everyone was winning, the whispers stayed whispers. When the losses began piling up, though, a change needed to be made. And thus, earlier this year Roach fired Ariza.
Almost immediately, Rios’ camp swooped in and hired Ariza. Now, while it’s indisputable that Ariza is really good at what he does, everyone couldn’t help but assume that Rios' camp was trying to get a little extra out of the deal.
In a recent interview with Boxing Scene, Rios tried to dispel those rumors.
“It’s not because 'Oh, he knows Pacquiao very well' or stuff like that,” he said. “Ariza hasn't told us anything about what Pacquiao does wrong or stuff like that. He hasn't said sh*t like that. We're not worrying about that. We're not cheaters. We don't need him [to tell us] his game plan or what Pacquiao does wrong. We don't need that.”
Of course not. Rios has the guy who helped turn Pacquiao into what he is today, who worked beside him and knows his strengths and weaknesses as well as anyone, but he isn’t picking Ariza’s brain for any of that stuff. Got it.
“[Ariza] just does great exercise [and preparation], that's what he does,” Rios continued. “His job is to get my physically strong and that's it. He's not in the corner, he's not doing nothing [else]. Robert and Donald [Leary] are the ones in the corner and [Robert’s] dad. So that's what it comes down to.”
Again, Ariza is a very good strength and conditioning guy, but Rios is a veteran. He knows other good strength and conditioning guys. He picked Ariza for a reason. And regardless of whether he wants to admit it or not, everyone knows what that reason is.