A scuffle broke out between Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, and members of Brandon Rios’s team at a workout in Macau, China on Tuesday. During the expletive-filled confrontation, Alex Ariza, Pacquiao’s former strength coach who has clashed with Roach in the past, kicked Roach in the chest and can be heard on video mocking the symptoms of Roach’s Parkinson’s disease.
Tensions boiled over around 11 am, when Roach arrived at the gym to prepare for Pacquiao’s workout. Rios and his team--including Ariza and trainer Robert Garcia--were finishing up. Roach approached Rios’s team aggressively and ordered them out of the gym. Garcia said his team was delayed by interviews and said “I ain’t going nowhere.” Roach and Ariza then started getting into it. Roach cursed at Ariza. Ariza began purposefully slurring his speech. When Roach moved towards Ariza, Ariza responded by kicking Roach in the chest.
After a few minutes, Roach was escorted into an adjacent room.
Ariza claimed that during the confrontation Roach used racial and religious slurs. However, cameras picked up Ariza making derogatory comments about Roach’s Parkinson’s disease --a degenerative condition Roach has suffered from for years -- including calling Roach a “stuttering prick.”
The relationship between Ariza and Roach has been a tense one for years. As Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach for five years, Ariza was a key member of Pacquiao’s camp for signature wins over Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya. But Roach often felt that Ariza was stepping outside of his role and trying to take over control of Pacquiao’s camps. Last August, Roach fired Ariza, a decision Pacquiao supported.
In turn, Ariza began working with Rios, who will face Pacquiao in a welterweight fight on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 pm).
There is bad blood between Roach and Rios and Garcia, too. In 2010, Rios and Antonio Margarito were caught on video mocking Roach’s tremors. The video also showed Garcia, who trained both fighters, laughing. Rios, Garcia and Margarito apologized, and while Roach accepted the apology, those close to him maintain that he has never let it go.
Several media outlets -- including HBO and ESPN -- witnessed and recorded the altercation. --Chris Mannix