Filipino fight icon Manny Pacquiao has sorted out tension in his camp and will have strength coach Alex Ariza in his corner with trainer Freddie Roach when he fights Timothy Bradley on Saturday.
“The corner will be me, Miguel Diaz, and Buboy (Fernandez) and Alex Ariza,” Roach said Wednesday, shortly before Pacquiao and Bradley took the stage at the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theater for the final press conference to promote their Saturday duel for Pacquaio’s World Boxing Organization welterweight title.
Pacquiao’s renewed spirituality has been a theme leading up to the bout, with the 33-year-old fighter saying he was happier and calmer as he prepared thanks to Bible study and a renewed relationship with God.
However, tension between Roach and Ariza had arisen and been aired publicly on the HBO reality television series “24/7: Pacquiao vs Bradley”, a programme that has followed each boxer in the build-up to the fight.
On Wednesday, however, Roach said he wouldn’t characterize the situation as a “rift” between himself and Ariza.
The respected trainer – who is to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday in Canastota, New York – said he disapproved of Ariza’s decision to leave Pacquaio’s camp last month.
“It wasn’t a rift. I just said I disagreed with his choice of leaving training camp … I thought it was bad timing to leave a fighter two weeks without a replacement, like if you have an assistant or somebody like that.”
“I thought it was a bad choice.”
Pacquiao said last week that he expected the situation to be resolved, and Roach said that he asked the fighter who he wanted in his corner.
“He said let’s let Alex work the corner and I’ll sit Alex and Miguel down and we’ll tell them what their jobs are and everyone’s just going to do their job,” Roach said, adding that while he’ll be the only trainer instructing Pacquiao, he might still call on Ariza to relay his directions because Ariza can be heard better over the noise of the crowd.
“That won’t change,” Roach said.
Pacquiao, who has won world titles in eight divisions and built a record of 54-3 with two drawn and 38 knockouts, is favored against Bradley, the WBO light welterweight champ.
But he admits his narrow majority decision victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in November may have left some with “doubts” that he retains the same devastating speed and power of his prime.
Against the unbeaten Bradley, a 28-year-old who brings a record of 28-0 with 12 knockouts to the fight, Pacquiao said he wants to “get back the trust” of fans.
To do it, he said, he knows he’ll have to stop a young and hungry fighter who will be on boxing’s biggest stage for the first time.
“I know what Timothy is feeling right now,” Pacquiao said of the drive to earn a place among boxing’s elite. “That’s why I train hard — because I know what he’s feeling.”