Manny Pacquiao’s old strength and conditioning coach, Alex Ariza, is something of a controversial figure in boxing. His effectiveness and results speak for themselves, but so do the negative headlines he will inevitably bring to your camp sooner or later.
Ariza was at his most successful during his stint in Pacquiao’s camp. And it goes without saying that this coincided with the Filipino star’s career peak. Last year, after back-to-back losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, there were rumors floating around that Freddie Roach and Bob Arum were unhappy with how Ariza prepared Pacquiao for those two fights. Surely enough, Ariza was soon kicked to the curb.
Prior to his big fight against Pacquiao, Brandon Rios brought Ariza into his camp. A predictable amount of controversy followed. However, nothing that happened in the lead-up to the fight left as much of an impression as what happened after it.
Shortly following Rios’ most recent defeat, it came out that 27-year-old failed his post-fight drug test.
"I can say unequivocally that it was not a steroid-related substance," Bob Arum said in an interview with Dan Rafael. "It was some substance that was like a minor kind of thing that you're not supposed to take, something you take for weight loss, like a diuretic. They say it's not a steroid but it was something you should not have in your urine after a fight."
Well that’s much better. So that’s one Ariza-trained fighter that is now mired in controversy.
Now let's make way for No. 2.
This weekend, Marcos Maidana earned a stunning victory over Adrien Broner. It should have been good times all around for the fighter and his fans. Unfortunately, all anyone is talking about this morning is a video floating around of Ariza doing this:
For what it’s worth, Ariza has already publicly come out and said those aren’t smelling salts. He insists he was just wiping Maidana’s nose. Either way, though, there is a reason why people are suspicious.
And those suspicions are reminding everyone of something else: Floyd Mayweather’s claims about Pacquiao.
Lost in all the eventual talk about money and whatever else is the fact that initially, the reason why Mayweather-Pacquiao failed to materialize, is because Mayweather demanded a form drug testing that Pacquiao felt was too stringent. And why did Mayweather demand this? Because he was suspicious of Ariza and how things were handled in that camp.
Do these two cases, Rios and maybe Maidana mean that Pacquiao was doing something shady? Of course not. But they do go some ways in explaining why Mayweather was so paranoid.