There is a war brewing within Manny Pacquiao’s camp.
A certain dark cloud has been hanging over the Filipino champion ever since his controversial November 12th victory over Juan Manuel Marquez. Various members of his stable, almost immediately, scrambled to protect themselves from the fallout of what was supposed to be an easy win but turned into an embarrassing debacle.
Whereas the talk about whether Pacquiao was overtrained or undertrained has subsided in recent days, a whole new conflict has come to the forefront in the form a very public, very ugly battle between conditioning coach Alex Ariza and Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum.
As we reported on Opposing Views, Ariza -- renowned for his outspokenness -- recently lay into Arum for what he perceived to be as the Top Rank boss’ mismanagement of Pacquiao’s career. Whereas he -- and Freddie Roach -- had made it publicly known that they think the Filipino champion should face off against Floyd Mayweather Jr. next, Arum seems to want a fourth bout against Marquez for his golden goose.
Most see that Arum’s push for another Marquez fight is blatantly self-serving, but only recently have the insiders begun to call him out on it. Again, Opposing Views pointed out that Arum has selfishly been making himself the biggest obstacle in a potential Pacquiao versus Mayweather superfight a long time.
Continuing his recent diatribe against Arum, Ariza sat down for an interview with Keith Terceira of BoxingScene.com and addressed some of the more prevailing issues head-on.
On the topic of what precisely the problem is between Ariza and Arum:
“… Bob went above and beyond, trying to get me fired, trying to get me discredited, trying to interfere with my fighters.”
On the topic of his relationship with Pacquiao, currently:
“That’s why I got so upset. Manny and I spoke about everything on Saturday. We sat down we watched the fight together and I just gave him an overview. People think Manny is stupid, Manny is not going to sit there and look …Chavez is fighting like he has never fought before, Amir Khan is fighting the best ever, and they are doing the program, they are following the routine. This fight I didn’t feel like fighting with Manny as much. He had a great camp, his training was very focused, he was very into what he was doing, and sometimes as a trainer you can only make suggestions. When things don’t go your way, it’s time to just take a step back and let him do his thing.”
He also added: “… I didn’t feel like I was going to push my agenda. Once I saw he wasn’t going to go with things the way I wanted things to go, I left it alone and just supported him in the things he was doing and help him as much as I can. He told me this time, he promised that we would go back to doing things the old way, so we will see. Listen nothing that I say is going to get me fired from Manny.
"Manny is going to fire me based on him not wanting me being there, period. It’s not going to be that I said something about Bob or I said something about Michael [Koncz]; it’s not going to be over that, it’s just going to be my time to go. That kind of sh*t doesn’t bother Manny. If Manny wants me out I’ll be out. If Manny wants me in I’ll be in. Nobody is going to convince him one way or the other.”
All of which brings us to the million dollar question: now what?
Clearly Ariza and Roach, for whatever reason, have gotten in Arum’s crosshairs. In response, Ariza is essentially proclaiming all-out war against the Top Rank boss that has more or less shaped Pacquiao’s career -- on the business end -- for years now.
With things falling apart within the Pacquiao camp, only the leader, Manny, can prevent it from complete wreckage.
Unfortunately, part of that process may entail choosing a side.
Which one will Pacquiao choose?