Just weeks ago as Manny Pacquiao started preparing for his comeback fight against Brandon Rios, news came out that conditioning coach Alexander Ariza has left the former top pound-for-pound boxer’s camp.
What I read from various boxing websites is Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach showed Ariza the way out. While not much ruckus resulted from Ariza’s leaving Pacquiao’s camp, I believe that wasn’t the right move considering that the Filipino boxer is preparing for a critical fight against Rios, who definitely does not qualify as a “stepping stone” opponent.
Ariza, who has been with Pacquiao’s camp for five years, is partly responsible for the Filipino’s transformation into a feared welterweight puncher, having introduced into his training camp modern training methods like plyometrics, some weight training, and what have you.
Those who think plyometrics and modern conditioning methods have no place in a boxing camp simply have to look at the training methods of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, who today are among the best-conditioned athletes in the planet.
Heck, people need not even look beyond Pacquiao archrival Juan Manuel Marquez, who looked like a bodybuilder and packed a lot of zing in his punches when he sent the Filipino boxer to dreamland in the sixth round of their fourth epic meeting in December last year.
And Marquez was heavy on plyometric training when he trained for his third and fourth meeting with Pacquiao.
So now that Pacquiao does not have a conditioning coach in his training for Rios, what could we expect from the Filipino come fight night? Nothing rousing, that’s for sure.
When I mean nothing rousing, Pacman would not finish Rios the way he dominated Ricky Hatton way back in May 2, 2009, and Miguel Cotto on November 14, 2009.
Some may reason out that the basic boxing training program, which has a wide array of drills, is enough to put a boxer in top condition. And many will also mention that Pacquiao was already an explosive athlete that a conditioning coach was no longer necessary in the first place.
But in today’s very competitive sports environment, especially in the professional ranks, almost all top athletes are looking for an edge.
And today’s MMA stars know the importance of conditioning – gone are the days when skill drills and sparring made up the bulk of the overall training programs of MMA stars.
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight championship Brock Lesnar even dominated the MMA scene for two years by simply being the most powerful and well conditioned fighter in the Octagon, even if he was not that skilled. His rival, Shane Carwin, even almost made it to the championship simply with wrestling and boxing skills, and a powerful physique.
All I wish now is for Pacquiao is for him to be more focused in his training against Rios, who will surely come into the fight the bigger and more powerful fighter.
The last time that Pacquiao scored a real knockout was when he fought Hatton, and that was at junior welterweight. And an almost perfectly conditioned Pacquiao sent Cotto to the canvas twice enroute to stopping the Puerto Rican. Since then, Pacquiao has failed to produce a stoppage or knockout. And without Ariza in his training camp, I doubt it if he can stop or knock out Rios come November in Macau. And a win less than a knockout won’t convince fight fans that Pacquiao still has what it takes to take on Marquez. But what if Rios wins?