Exclusive Interview with Manny Pacquiao Conditioning Coach Alex Ariza 2009
By Scoop Malinowski
The conditioning coach of Manny Pacquiao - Alex Ariza was understandably quite eager to clear the air and clear the name of Manny Pacquiao from all the foul allegations and suspicions launched by the Mayweathers, Golden Boy, Malignaggi, Cintron, Mosley, Oscar, Schaefer. Ariza is in Hawaii visiting his mom this week and took time out on Tuesday to answer some questions...
Read and decide for yourself if Alex Ariza is a truthful, honest, concerned, and credible person. And conclude for yourself if you think Richard Schaefer is a low life hypocrite scumbag who might resort to trying anything, legal or illegal, to keep the company assets profitable, such as try to assassinate the honor, integrity and reputation of Manny Pacquiao with slander, libel and defamation...
BoxingInsider: What is your reaction to the Mayweather and Golden Boy firestorm-causing insinuations that Manny Pacquiao is using or has used performance-enhancing drugs?
Alex Ariza: "I think it's posturing. I don't understand why Floyd or Floyd Sr's opinion carries so much weight all the sudden. Manny has said he's willing to fight Floyd any time any where. He's willing to give the blood tests - just not two or three days before, for understable reasons. To not be subjected to that anxiety of them coming to the door the night before the fight. It's unwarranted. It's funny Richard Schaefer is such a hypocrite - Shane Mosley admitted to using performance enhancing drugs, knowingly or unknowingly, and yet Richard Schaefer was so against any testing on Shane Mosley. Anything that now comes out of Richard Schaefer's mouth...it's like a split tongue he has. I feel that anything we do or have done, I'd go as far as to take a lie detector test if I've ever given Manny any performance enhancing drugs, anything, aspirin, ANYTHING that is not a health supplement. ANYTHING. ANYTHING. I have not so much as given Manny an aspirin."
BoxingInsider: How do you think Manny feels right now?
Alex Ariza: "I think Manny is one of these guys that is very positive. That's how he goes through life. I think he does care how it effects the sport and the fans of the sport. I think he really cares what his fans and children think. It's wreckless and irresponsible. I'm disappointed in Oscar who has represented this sport with a high level of integrity, who has always tried to carry himself as a sportsman with honor. And he succeeded in doing that. It's amazing he's letting someone like Richard Schaefer disgrace the sport. It's sad. It's the wrong way to promote the sport. For the record, I don't work for the fighter, Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan. I work for Freddie Roach. Anything I give Manny or suggest to Manny, I would never jeopardize Freddie's trust in me or my relationship with him, just for a win for any of these fighters. I wouldn't jeopardize that for any amount of money or amount of wins. I'd go under any lie detector test.
"I didn't really do any interviews before this because I didn't feel it warranted it. But I've seen stories like Lou DiBella said that members of Team Pacquiao have a history of steroid use? Show me. Where's his paperwork that leads to BALCO? I've worked with Diego Corrales, Erik Morales, Angel Manfredy. None of those guys has ever even tested for a diaretic, cold medication, antibiotics, nothing. I don't give any of my fighters that would be considered illegal or a performance enhancing drug. I don't know where people are coming up that I'm linked to BALCO. I've never been associated or questioned about anything."
BoxingInsider: Without any evidence or proof that Manny Pacquiao has ever tested positive for anything, what do you think is the Mayweather camp and Golden Boy's motive for slandering and smearing Manny Pacquiao's name, honor and achievements?
Alex Ariza: "That's a really good question. As an educated guy. I know they're (Golden Boy) pursuing another fighter we work with - Amir Khan (who is a free agent). I would advise him to stay away from Golden Boy. I wouldn't feel comfortable as a young kid. He is just 23 but he has the same level of integrity and sportsmanship that Manny does. He tries to carry himself with that same kind of dignity. If I were Amir Khan I would stay away, not go with a company that is wreckless. It's really surprising Oscar is a part of that. I'm not even angry. It's disappointing. The reality is Schaefer is just a suit, a puppet. Oscar laced up the gloves, he knows everything about the sport, how hard it is for the fighters and how much they have to deal with and overcome. It's surprising he's allowing this."
BoxingInsider: Maybe Oscar is just a puppet in his own company.
Alex Ariza: "Maybe you're right. Maybe he's not a stand-up guy. I've just never seen anyone work as hard as Manny works, with all the dedication and discipline and clean living. This is what's possible when you work so hard and do all the right things. This is what you can achieve. It's really disappointing - without any evidence, a shred of evidence, they can throw this steroid issue up in the air and get so much momentum.
"You can't say enough about Freddie Roach. He's never ever been involved in a controversy or any kind of cheating in boxing. He really respects the sport, the sport he loves. He has given a piece of his life to the sport. I see how he is - he loves the fighters as if they were his children. He has never been involved in any cheating or doing anything illegal in any fight. I don't think Freddie would ever do anything unethical that would result in a fighter getting injured or injured illegally. It's almost unbelievable. Is this the way they want to promote the fight?
"I've been working with Manny for almost two years. Do you know how hard it was for me to convince Manny to do anything I suggested? It took me so long, to go to Freddie, to show him to convince him to venture to start taking evenn multi-vitamins and protein drinks or recovery drinks. Manny never did those things before."
BoxingInsider: What kind of protein drinks and recovery drinks? And when did you start Manny on this new regimen?
Alex Ariza: "A blend of whey, soy and milk proteins, I blend everything. He started taking it right before the Diaz fight. What I give Manny runs the gamut through dairy, milk, meat, fish and poultry proteins, it runs the gamut to every different source of protein that we can. It's very, very important to be smart about nutrition and recovery. This didn't happen overnight. It took a long time. Manny didn't know anything about recovery and the importance of proper nutrition."
BoxingInsider: Other than Manny himself, you might be the best man to clear Manny from these accusations he might have used performance enhancing drugs. What else can you tell the public?
Alex Ariza: "Just that's it. It's almost like a witch hunt. None of it is warranted. I've read, I'm in charge, he doesn't know what he's taking. Golden Boy and Mayweather, they don't know what his supplements involve. They're talking as if they know what we're giving him. Like they know what kind of training he does. I have a great dietician - Teri Tom, she graduated from UCLA, did her internship at Cedars Sinai. She handles the dietician part of my program. Aundrea Macias went to San Diego State. Kinesiology. She does the research. I come up with the exercises, run them by her. Run the risk vs. reward, then implement it in our strength and conditioning program. Freddie is involved in every aspect of this, to the nutrition, to coming up with the special exercises. Then we run them through Manny. It's very detailed. It would be irresponsible to do this on my own. Teri is phenomenal. Aundrea is a phenomenal research analyst. With Freddie we formulated a program. A lot of hard work went into this. It's disappointing to see it's being shattered and shadowed by these steroid accusations. You are right, I'm the one who brought this to Manny. I'd be more than willing to take a lie detector test. We're not hiding anything. Why would I convince Manny to do something he doesn't want to do?
"I'll do anything to any extent to clear Manny's name. I don't want any of this to trickle down to Amir Khan, Vanes Martirosyn. They work so hard. I get them up at 5 o'clock in the morning. When they wake up, they don't know what I'm gonna have them do - put them in a cold pool to swim, run them on the beach or the track. They get up at 5 a.m. It's sad this kind of work ethic is called into question. It's destructive. This is demoralizing to these guys. People don't know the grueling stuff I put these kids through. I have a great responsibility, these are young kids, to keep them strong, safe and positive. You just can't put a price on someone's health. And most of all Freddie trusts me in this. In the responsibility he gives me to prepare these guys. I move these fighters in with me. I feed them, train them. Make sure everything is right."
BoxingInsider: Are you or Manny aware that Mayweather is largely disliked by the U.S. public and media?
Alex Ariza: "Of course he is. The thing is, to be lied to, to get attention. It's so bad for everyone to...look at Manny who is so soft spoken, so loved. At the last fight someone saw me wearing my Manny Pacquiao jacket. They said to me, I'm such a fan of him. I said, Oh, you're a boxing fan? She said, No I'm a fan of Manny Pacquiao. It's so easy to be a fan of his. If I was a parent I'd feel very careful about having my children to hear him talk the way he does in the press conferences and about other fighters. He's very profane and very vulgar. Manny is a true sportsman in every way, someone you look up to. Floyd is the opposite. He's a gangster or tries to be a gangster. Demeaning - that's the only way he can get attention. Because he's not loved by the boxing world. Parents look at him and think, Don't be like him. That's what you DON'T want to be.
"Manny is singlehandedly trying to save a country. He really is. Let me tell you something. Some of the things you don't see on 24-7. If a person or a child needs an operation or medication, Manny will pay for it. Kids who need some kind of operation or procedure - Manny will pay for it. He's getting back what he gives. Mayweather is only getting back what he gives out - negative energy."
BoxingInsider: Going back, let me make sure, you said it took you two years to get Manny to start taking the protein nutritional supplements?
Alex Ariza: "It took us a long time coming. We've been doing this over a year. He didn't turn into this bull juggernaut overnight. A lot of work went into this, strength and conditioning, a new scientific approach. It was all new to him - what his training regimen was, what he eats now. It was over a full year. A lot of work."
BoxingInsider: I know how important this work is. I know Phil Landman who is the conditioning coach of Miguel Cotto and he told me Cotto used to have a bad diet and would drink a Red Bull and eat chicken wings and he thought that was energizing. But Phil changed all that before the Quintana fight and did it the educated way like you and after the KO win, Cotto and his family were telling Phil how important he was to Miguel. And Phil has been with him ever since.
Alex Ariza: "I credit Phil Landman a lot. Although I don't know him. I think it was the conditioning that got him through some of those fights, the conditioning never failed him. I looked over and saw the condition Miguel Cotto was in at the weigh in and I was impressed. It was not his conditioning that failed him in the fight. I think the only thing he lacked was the proper strategic advice from a real boxing trainer."
BoxingInsider: Like those endorsements I know Phil got, also from Miguel himself, did Manny ever verbally compliment you, like saying Wow, he felt stronger or anything like that?
Alex Ariza: "When the reporters come and he takes his shirt off and shows his muscles, they all look at him and he points to me and says, 'Him.' But I have to admit, sometimes it's an uphill battle. Everything I do, I really think the absolute best for them. Most of it is textbook, consistent, we try to be smart and positive as a team. If I do look at changing something, Manny will still look at Freddie. I still have to get Freddie's approval. Whatever I do change, Manny will always look for that nod from Freddie. Change is not always the best thing, that's why having a trainer like Freddie is so important."
BoxingInsider: How did you first start with Freddie?
Alex Ariza: "Diego Corrales was in the accident. We were uniting before the Clottey fight. I called up Freddie, asked if I could send my resume. He had just had a falling out with a former trainer. A few weeks later I asked Freddie to give me a tryout. Give me two weeks to make a difference. I moved into the Vanguard Motel next to the gym. I said, If I don't bring something to the table, I'll leave. Freddie gave me a shot. And I'm still here. Ironically, I sent my resume to Golden Boy. They said they do that in house or they don't do anything like that. It didn't work out. And I'm kind of glad it didn't.
Freddie is an out of the box trainer. If it makes sense to him, he'll try it. When I first talked to him, I was surprised how much he knew - about interval training, importance of nutrition throughout the day. He knew the basics, just not the intricate details. He knows what most trainers don't care to learn. At first there were some things I thought might not work with Manny. Freddie forced it. So we kept coming up with new stuff. He thought, if we're gonna move up weight divisions, we gotta try something new. Without Freddie, this would have never worked."
Note: Alex Ariza graduated from San Diego State with a BS in Exercise Science in 1995.
Postscript: Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya and Richard Schaefer all reached a settlement in the Manny Pacquiao defamation lawsuit against them, admitting they were completely in the wrong to accuse Pacquiao of using performance enhancing drugs.