LOS ANGELES—Tension is rising in the Wilcard Boxing Club where Filipino pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao is training for his upcoming fight.
Upset over strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza’s early departure from training camp in the Philippines, Freddie Roach has made it clear that he doesn’t want the trainer around, according to several news reports.
Roach vented his frustration in the latest HBO documentary series 24/7.
“You know the thing is I had Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao, my top two fighters there [in the Philippines] and Alex wanted to work with [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr,” said Roach. “I told him I think it’s a bad move. But people make [their own] decisions. I think it was wrong. He’s a grown man. He’ll have to live with that decision not me.”
Khan immediately fired Ariza. There are rumors that Chavez Jr. has also fired Ariza, according to HBO.
“One thing about Alex is that he’s very good at what he does but he just over did it,” Roach told HBO. “I think his head has gotten too big and we needed to calm him down a little bit… I’m going to suggest to Manny either to get rid of him or I get another strength and conditioning coach.”
A source close to the Team Pacquiao camp confirmed the tension inside the gym.
“You know how Manny is, he doesn’t fire anyone,” said a source close to the Pacquiao camp who did not want to be disclosed. “Manny always keeps people around.”
Pacquiao is training to defend his welterweight championship against undefeated Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grande on June 9 in Las Vegas.
Ariza said he asked Pacquiao’s permission before departing early from Baguio.
“It’s not like I left in the heart of training or two weeks before the fight or even the whole camp,” Ariza told HBO. “He gave me the green light and said, ‘Go help him. I’ll see you in LA.’”
Pacquiao blamed the media for blowing the issue out of proportion.
“They [the media] are making it a big issue,” said Pacquiao. “Alex asked me for permission…if I didn’t agree he wouldn’t leave but I gave him permission to leave.”
The stakes are high in this fight. Pacquiao is coming off a disappointing win against Juan Manuel Marquez last November. If Pacquiao shows another poor performance or even loses, Ariza may receive the axe.