Roach-Ariza feud turns into a melee
MACAU—The seething animosity between Freddie Roach and the camp of Brandon Rios turned physical Wednesday as conditioning trainer Alex Ariza kicked Roach following a verbal tussle at the fighters’ inconspicuous training room at The Venetian Macao.
Actually, it was Roach and opposing trainer Robert Garcia who had an altercation with regards to overlapping training schedule, but Ariza butted in and told Roach to get out.
Roach dared Ariza, whom he sacked from the Manny Pacquiao camp recently, to throw him out even as he was moving forward. That was when Ariza kicked Roach on the chest.
The scuffle, which was caught on video, also involved Donald Leary, a member of Team Rios who had to be restrained by security personnel from lunging at Roach—allegedly due to a racist remark that he was a stupid Mexican.
Ariza was also seen pushing Leary toward Roach.
Apparently, Team Rios exceeded the time (9 to 11 a.m.) allotted them and Roach told Garcia to vacate the area as Pacquiao was arriving for training.
Garcia refused, saying they still had an interview with ESPN. This irked Roach, who cussed him.
Even as Roach’s party, that included conditioning coach Gavin McMillan, was leaving, the exchange of harsh words continued with Garcia yelling “F… you Roach. You don’t run this f…… place.”
Garcia, the 2012 Trainer of the Year, insisted that Roach insulted him and that he’d never disrespected the man.
Still fuming, Ariza, who moved over to the Rios camp after he got sacked, was overhead challenging Roach to a fight while pointing at the makeshift ring.
Roach later told Manila-based sportswriters that he didn’t regret what he said and that Ariza “kicked him like a girl.”
“I don’t like team (Team Rios) anyway. They’re bad people.”
Roach harbors a grudge at Garcia and Rios after a video leaked out in 2010 in the buildup to the Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito showdown that showed Garcia, Rios and Margarito mocking the slurred speech and shaky movements of Roach, who has Parkinson’s disease.
That incident stuck in Roach’s mind, and he said the Pacquiao-Rios welterweight bout on Sunday is personal.
According to Roach, Team Garcia baited him into the incident.
“They wanted an altercation. They knew that it was past their time,” said Roach, noting that it was already 11:10 a.m. when he entered the room.
Renowned promoter Bob Arum said the fracas, though it generated excitement, was unfortunate and bad for the sport.
“The incident reinforces the people’s belief that there are hooligans in boxing,” said Arum, who said Garcia has agreed for Ariza not to be involved in prefight activities. Additional security personnel will also be deployed during functions leading to the bout.
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