MANILA, Philippines - On the first day of Manny Pacquiao's Baguio training camp for his fight against Timothy Bradley, Alex Ariza, Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach, reinforced his commitment to the Filipino boxer.
"I started with Manny, I'll finish with Manny," he told Rappler.
But just 3 days later, on Saturday, April 21, Ariza left Baguio City and later took a flight to Los Angeles to be with Mexican middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who will face Andy Lee on June 16.
Ariza confirmed his departure with Rappler, saying "Yes, Manny and I discussed it last night (Friday, April 20), he gave me the ok and said to meet him in L.A. when he gets there."
Pacquiao is scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles 2nd week of May to continue his training against Bradley. Ariza will reunite with Pacquiao's camp there and continue to help with the fighter's preparations for his June 9 bout against Bradley.
While Ariza has not left Pacquiao's camp for good, Ariza's departure in the middle of training has raised concerns on how it would affect Pacquiao's performance in the ring.
Pacquiao may have let Ariza go, but the boxer's trainer, Freddie Roach, was reportedly not as happy with Ariza's decision to leave.
According to InterAKTV, Roach "said it was wrong" for Ariza to leave mid-camp, while promoter Bob Arum said it was "unfair to Pacquiao."
Ariza's trip to the United States is further bothersome after Pacquiao's recent fights wherein he has suffered from leg cramps, which he claims has negatively affected his performance.
Pacquiao said the cramps hobbled his movements and slowed him down when he faced Juan Manuel Marquez. Leg problems were also the same reason the Filipino gave on why he was unable to deliver the expected KO against Shane Mosley.
Ariza has said in past interviews that he was confused by Pacquiao's pain, which seems to only appear during fight night.
Whether Ariza had plans to leave camp for a couple of weeks is unclear.
There were no signs of a possible departure on day 1 of Pacquiao's high-altitude camp, when Ariza told Rappler that Pacquiao would "preferably" not leave training at any point to be at peak form come fight night.
It was Ariza that ended up leaving before the end of the week.
When asked what he planned to do to help Pacquiao avoid cramps and perform well, Ariza emphasized the importance of strength and conditioning.
"[Pacquiao] focusing for a fight has never been an issue. Its a matter of doing the proper training," Ariza told Rappler. "It's really hard for people to understand sometimes that strength and conditioning is the very element of an athlete that makes him perform well. And when you neglect your strength and conditioning, you'll have poor performances."
Ariza's flight also leaves British-Pakistani fighter Amir Khan, who is training in Baguio under Roach as well, just 4 weeks before his rematch against Lamont Peterson on May 19.
FightHype reports however, that the departure should not be surprising, since Ariza had told the boxing website of his April plans to train with Chavez Jr. -- plans that he said, was known to the 3 boxers he was working with, Pacquiao, Khan and Chavez Jr.
In the meantime, Filipino trainer Marvin Somodio has taken Ariza's place as Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach. - Rappler.com
Click on the links below for more.