MANNY Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach was involved in a physical altercation with the entourage of opponent Brandon Rios yesterday, four days ahead of their fight.
Roach approached Rios’ trainer Robert Garcia in the gym which both camps are sharing at The Venetian casino on Macau’s Cotai Strip, saying they had gone past their scheduled training time and should leave.
Video of the incident shows a heated argument before Roach was kicked in the upper body by Alex Ariza, a member of the Rios camp who formerly worked alongside Roach in Pacquiao’s corner.
Roach demanded that on-site security call the police and initially wanted to press assault charges against Ariza, but Bob Arum, chief executive of Top Rank which promotes both fighters, talked him out of it, for fear it could derail Saturday’s bout for the vacant WBO welterweight title.
“Who knows what the hell happens in Macau if you press charges, everybody could get arrested, we don’t know anything about the legal system,” Arum said, adding he was “pretty disgusted” with the incident.
“That kind of publicity is not good for the sport. It was nothing to do with the fighters, it had all to do with a grudge that Ariza has with Freddie, who fired him from Pacquiao’s corner.
“Garcia and Rios are good friends of mine and they listened to reason, and I’ve told them to tone everything down and they will. But Ariza sometimes gets out of control and that’s really the problem, and usually when these types of fights occur, it’s usually someone who is tangential to the main guys who starts it.”
Pacquiao indirectly addressed the issue during a promotional media appearance later yesterday.
“Let everything finish in the ring,” Pacquiao said. “No trash talk before the fight because it’s not a good example to all the people. If anyone has a grudge against someone, forgive them as God forgives. It’s not personal, it’s our job, entertaining people.”
Ariza said that he did not believe Pacquiao’s comments were directed at him, and the hours that had passed between the morning altercation and the late-night promotional event had not reduced his displeasure toward Roach. Ariza said: “I take responsibility for what I did 100 per cent. I know what I said and know what I did. I can’t take it back, it was the heat of the moment. I did what I did because he accosted me, he got close.
“I know Freddie Roach for six years, and I know he has a tendency to be aggressive. If he did it again, I’d do it again, too.”
Ariza, who during the altercation mocked Roach’s slurred speech, which results from Parkinson’s disease, said the Hall of Fame trainer was clearly coming to the end of his career.
“The one thing that anger brings out is the truth,” Ariza said. “He hides behind that whole Parkinson’s gig, not to demean Parkinson’s.
“He feels very threatened. People gave me a lot of credit for Manny’s rise. It’s sad, its transparent he’s at the end of the road and this is his way of trying to hang on to what popularity he has.”