THE ENTIRE Manny Pacquiao training camp was stunned when it learned Saturday that conditioning coach Alex Ariza had left Baguio in a huff.
Camp members only discovered that Ariza was missing when trainer Freddie Roach looked for his driver and was told that he had motored to Manila with Ariza, who was catching a flight for the United States.
More than being irritated that he had to take a taxi going to the gym, Roach was shocked at Ariza’s sudden departure.
And probably puzzled that he did not know about it beforehand.
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“Ariza is headed for the Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. training camp in the United States, which he obviously gave priority to over Pacquiao. He chose Chavez Jr. over Manny and Amir Khan, who was also training under him in Baguio,” read a text message I received last Saturday, moments after Ariza left the City of Pines.
Chavez’s fight is set on June 16 while Manny clashes with Tim Bradley a week earlier on June 9.
“Word has it that Ariza stands to gain a bigger revenue from Chavez, whom he is co-managing with Bill Keane.” The source added.
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Except perhaps for Manny, nobody in the Pacquiao camp seems to like Ariza, who is said to have become so arrogant.
He also does not get along well with the major cast in Team Pacquiao, namely, Roach, business manager Michael Koncz and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who labeled him “unprofessional.”
Ariza left the Baguio Training camp with the promise that he will reunite with the Pacquiao in Los Angeles after two weeks.
If Manny believed this promise, Roach certainly did not, mainly because of the conflict in timetables.
Roach stressed that the Pacquiao and Chavez fights are just a week apart.
Roach said Ariza can only rejoin Team Pacquiao if he abandons Chavez in the crucial phase of his training. Would he do this?
Everyone was indifferent to Ariza. Manny was the only one who stood up for him.
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Last Monday, a video of Ariza’s last night was shown on TV news. It was also Ariza’s birthday that Friday night and he was celebrating with Manny and the group.
In the video, Ariza and Manny were seated side by side and they were very sweet, with the trainer giving Manny his full attention, practically spoon-feeding him.
“Pinaghihimay pa nga ng seafood ni Ariza si Manny, parang yaya na nagpapakain ng alaga (He was even shelling seafood for Manny, like a nanny feeding a child),” said my source.
My guess is that Ariza was buttering up to Manny before he asked his permission to take a leave.
I don’t know what was in the food Ariza fed Manny, but I think the latter knew he was leaving the following day because he gave him his permission, even lending the driver assigned to Roach.
Ariza probably asked for it as a birthday gift to him.
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Yesterday I asked my associates if anyone had tried to get the side of Ariza.
One of the younger scribes said his call was perfectly timed because Ariza had just arrived from the airport.
“He said Manny gave him permission to leave. He said he will be reporting back for active duty in the Pacquiao camp two weeks hence in Los Angeles, this remains to be seen,” said the scribe who obviously did not believe him.
Meantime, Roach assigned former amateur boxer Marvin Somodio to take over the task left by Ariza, whose departure could have been something everyone had been waiting for.