Alex Ariza defends his work, says Freddie Roach became more interested in being a TV star than a trainer

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts Blog

Alex Ariza, who was let go Wednesday after five years as Manny Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach, said he wants nothing but the best for Pacquiao but said trainer Freddie Roach has become a problem.

Ariza became a prominent figure in Pacquiao's camp by aiding his rise in weight. He helped as Pacquiao moved up and became one of the dominant fighters of the 21st centry. Ariza said he worked for Pacquiao, not Roach, and that Roach didn't have the ability to fire him. But Ariza said he heard rumblings that he may be let go from Pacquiao's wife, Jinkee. He said if Pacquiao wanted him out, he didn't want to cause any problems and would accept it.

He said that Roach became a changed man after the 2012 HBO series on him, "On Freddie Roach," was broadcast. Roach was more of a celebrity than a fight trainer from that point on, Ariza said.

"My fiancee is real good friends with Jinkee, Manny's wife, and she said that Freddie had been complaining about this, that and the other for the last couple of weeks, so it wasn't a surprise," Ariza said. "It didn't come as too much of a shock, because over the course of the last couple of fights, obviously, Freddie and I were having differences of opinion on how to train Manny.

"After [Roach was] nagging him too much, I'm sure Manny felt he didn't need that much disarray in the camp. That's OK. But I don't work for Freddie and I haven't in a couple of years."

Ariza said the problems between he and Roach began after Pacquiao's fight with Antonio Margarito in 2010. He said Roach and he never hit it off after that point.

Roach told Yahoo! Sports earlier on Wednesday that Ariza was overstepping his bounds.

I had a discussion with Manny and I told him that I had a lot of trouble working with Alex, because he was always trying to do everyone else's job. I told him that Miguel Diaz had told me he would not work with Manny as his cutman if Ariza was around. As I said, he wanted to do everyone's job but his own. I told Manny it was hard for us to work with him.

Manny said, 'You're the boss. You hired him.' When he said that, I fired him.

Ariza admitted he was working in other areas, including as a cut man, but said Roach had asked him to take over those roles.

"Freddie put me in charge of things like that," Ariza said. "I've been with Freddie and his fighters, with Manny, and I take care of the strength and conditioning. I take care of their nutrition. I take care of injuries. Obviously, my background is in sports physiology and exercise science and nutrition. If you go back far enough, I've been working cuts for years."

Since the HBO show aired, Ariza said Roach hasn't been nearly as good of a trainer.

"He's not the same person he was and you can talk to people in boxing who will tell you that," Ariza said. "He's become a celebrity. He said I became difficult to work with, but I never changed my approach."

He later said, "I realize I'm not the easiest person to work with, but I am also going to do what is best for the fighter. However Freddie feels about me personally, it's not about how you feel about me, it's about what is best for the fighter."

Ariza is in Mexico where he is working with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Ariza said if Pacquiao felt he'd make things more comfortable for himself by firing him, he had no problem with that.

"I didn't want Manny to be in an position where it affected his training or anything like that," Ariza said. "If that's his decision, if that's what he wants, I respect the decision. This is part of it."

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