Between 2008 and 2010 Manny Pacquiao was arguably the best fighter on the planet scoring knockout after knockout against top names such as Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. Now aged 36, Pacquiao hasn’t scored a knockout for 6 years in his last 9 fights. He has won his last 3 fights all in convincing fashion over the distance but never looked like getting the knockout. Ariza worked with Roach and all of his fighters including Pacquiao between 2008-2013 as strength and conditioning coach. Ariza, the fitness trainer who was supposed to be working with Pacqiuao is now working with none other than Floyd Mayweather as the two pound for pound stars meet in the ring on May 2nd.
Ariza left the Freddie Roach camp at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles on bad terms with Freddie Roach unhappy with his level of interference into Manny’s boxing preparations beyond just strength and conditioning work. He was sacked after Manny’s 5th pro career loss but first real career loss as a big time fighter in America (he had previously lost to Timothy Bradley but it was a hugely controversial points decision with most people having Manny as the winner despite the judges scoring the bout in favour of Bradley).
After being given his marching orders at the Wild Card, Ariza was soon back training top fighters such as tough Argentine Marcos Maidana, Brandon Rios and Mikey Garcia as 2013 trainer of the year, Robert Garcia, took him on at his stable in Oxnard, California. Whilst training Brandon Rios for a fight against Pacquiao he kicked Roach in the chest as they were confronted in a gymnasium in Macau such is there distain for each other.
Ariza was again successful in training with the likes of Maidana who took the unbeaten record of Adrien Broner and really pushed Mayweather in their first encounter in a way that he wasn’t expected to despite ultimately losing the bout. However he again left in acrimonious fashion as his involvement over stepped the mark for head trainer Robert Garcia. Again it was a clash of principles regarding the amount of rest and recovery time built into the schedule.
It seems as though their may be a healthy balance to be found, an equilibrium point, and Floyd Mayweather may just have found that in his preparations with Ariza for this huge mega showdown with fellow pound for pound star Manny Pacquiao. He certainly won’t stray to far from the formula that has worked for him every single time he’s stepped into the ring but he is always open to making small adjustments if necessary. If you discount the free shots he had at Victor Ortiz when he knocked him out, Mayweather’s last stoppage victory came against Ricky Hatton back in 2007. Could Ariza be successful in enhancing Floyd’s power?
Juan Manuel Marquez is a Mexican hero and 7 time 4 weight division world champion. Mayweather outclassed Marquez whereas Pacquiao found him a much tougher foe and became embroiled in a series of 4 epic fights with the Mexican with most being tinged with controversy. However the final fight ended in a devastating concussive knockout and it was Manny on the receiving end for the first time in his career to the shock of the boxing world.
It looks as though Mayweather may be looking at the Marquez performance and how he looked so much more powerful when up against Pacquiao than when up against himself. Marquez came into the fight looking in great condition. Even at 38 years old, he looked so much bigger, stronger and more defined than ever before. The transformation was dramatic and visible. Interestingly Ariza credited the work of his opponents Strength and conditioning trainer Angel Heredia who had got his man in phenomenal shape for the fight, such great condition in fact that he was accused falsely of taking performance enhancing drugs.
The accusations were fuelled by Angel Heredia’s very shady past as he once supplied PED’s to track coach Trevor Graham for use by high profile athletics stars such as Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin and Tim Montgomery in the infamous BALCO scandal. As a steroid supplier Heredia testified to save himself from prosecution and escaped without punishment. He is an expert in chemistry and pharmaceutical products and by his own admission had become an expert in non detectable substances.
Heredia also went on to work with the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt under the name of Angel Hernandez as he was employed as a track coach in 2009. Angel had provided drugs to Jamaican sprinter and coach Raymond Stewart for a decade. Stewart was coached by Glenn Mills, who is the long time coach of Usain Bolt. He couldn’t have could he…?
Whilst Heredia admits his wrong-doings in the past in Athletics he insists he is operating clean programmes for his fighters such as Marquez, who also insists that it is a completely revamped physical training approach and hard work that has benefited him and not anything else.
It’s all very shady stuff but ultimately they are passing the tests so you have no option but to assume they are all innocent unless proven otherwise. And why is all this stuff about Heredia even relevant?
Well because despite Angel Heredia once threatening Ariza with a lawsuit for defamation when they were on opposing sides for the Marquez versus Pacquiao fight, Ariza has been consulting with Heredia on how to increase Floyd’s power punching which may give some indication as to how Mayweather is planning to fight Pacquiao. It also sees two of the world’s best strength and conditioners collaborating in his favour. Having worked with Pacqiuao for years Ariza knows his fighter’s opponents body inside out. Whether or not that knowledge of his opponent is any benefit to Mayweather remains to be seen.
There can be no doubt that fighters that have been trained by Ariza and Heredia have done incredibly well. Could they be the men to help bring out the knockout power in Mayweather just when he needs it most?
Mayweather would be better off steering way clear of the likes of Heredia though despite him doing a fantastic job with Marquez. Mayweather has never had any trouble getting into tip top condition doing it the old school way anyway so why get involved with someone with a bad reputation even if he is now doing things great and legitimately?
With Olympic style drug testing having been implemented in this fight by Mayweather’s insistence, fight fans can be assured as much as possible that the fighters are clean. Ironically enough Mayweather was suspicious of Ariza and Pacquiao back in 2009 when the fight failed to happen and. Even back then he wanted the drugs testing implemented which Pacquiao rejected at the time.
Pacquiao’s business manager Michael Koncz recently said that Mayweathers team refused to sign an agreement to impose a $5million penalty if either fighter were to submit a failed drugs test ahead of May 2nd.
However, Mayweathers team want to follow the WADA code and implement a four year ban for any athlete who tests positive for PED’s. It just looks like a blatant attempt to try and cast Mayweather in a bad light but in fact it does the exact opposite. Are they trying to get back at him for casting them in a bad light in 2009? Well they should have just agreed to the testing then as they have this time and Mayweather would have taken the fight then.
It just looks as if the Pacquiao team are limiting their damage and that sounds suspicious. He could’ve included it in the original agreement. The fact is Pacquiao would lose out on far more than $5m if the $300m fight was pulled and he was unable to box for the next 4 years.
These are all inches that the camps are looking to try and gain. Psychological inches, mental inches and physical inches through mind games and tactics. At the very top level it is believed that that the margins are fractional. However it could really just come down to who performs the best on the night on May 2nd.