Alex Ariza, Floyd Mayweather’s strength and conditioning coach, blasted former client Manny Pacquiao and his team for claiming a shoulder injury was a major contributing factor in last Saturday’s disappointing 12-round fight in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision loss to Mayweather at MGM Grand. He underwent arthroscopic surgery for a partial right rotator cuff tear Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Ariza, asked via telephone interview from his Las Vegas home if he thought Pacquiao had an injury that hampered his performance, replied, “You want to know my honest opinion? No.”
Ariza acknowledged there could have been a pre-existing injury but immediately questioned claims of a tear in Pacquiao’s right shoulder of such significance as to affect performance.
“When you’re talking about muscles and ligaments and tendons that actually control those movements of a particular limb, in this case the shoulder, trust me when I tell you, you’re not going to be picking up that arm from the side of your waist, let alone lifting it over your head, fighting, throwing combinations with it (with a major tear),” Ariza said. “You know the damage immediately when something is torn.
“If a pitcher feels something in his shoulder, what does he do? Goes right into the dugout. A tennis player, what does he or she do? They turn around and walk right into that locker room. They’re not lifting that arm up. When something like that happens, the arm goes dead, almost immediately. There’s a deadness. There’s a feeling that something’s wrong.”
Ariza said there could be “a lot of different scenarios” as far as Pacquiao’s ailing right shoulder.
“But what I saw was a guy throwing that right hand plenty, and he seemed to be doing fine with it,” Ariza said. “I didn’t see that he was trying to make adjustments. You know, when a guy hurts his hand, all of a sudden, he switches, orthodox to southpaw, or southpaw to orthodox, and he’ll work with that other hand, or he’ll lead with the left a little bit more. He’ll do something. I would’ve noticed. I would’ve said, ‘Something’s wrong here, why is he doing that?’ “
Fans were incensed that a lackluster fight, at $99.95 for high-definition pay-per-view and tickets ranging from $1,500 to $10,000, ended with Pacquiao claiming that a four-week-old injury limited his performance.
Ariza worked for Pacquiao from 2008-13, and based on Saturday’s fight and the timing of surgery, the boxer could be back in time for a rematch next May, if anyone cares to do it.
That is highly debatable.
“There are 47 fighters out there who deserve a rematch more than Manny does,” Ariza said, referring to the 48-0 Mayweather’s previous opponents.
Ariza said he believes Pacquiao (57-6-2), who said he didn’t want to use the shoulder as “alibi,” did so.
“All I saw is an excuse,” Ariza said, “because your corner was so inept they never told you, ‘Manny, you’re walking straight in, give me some angles, get to that side, if you get him to the corner, you know he’s going to slide out to the left — close that back door down, step over there, make him go the other way.’ I didn’t see that one time.”
Ariza said it “calls into question Manny’s character” that Pacquiao’s shoulder dominated the post-fight discussion.
“Simply, you don’t want to accept the dominant performance of another guy over yourself,” Ariza said. “Be a man. Stand up and say, ‘You know what, he was something else that night, he neutralized me, he didn’t let me do what I want, I was completely frozen, he froze me from doing anything.’ “
In the fight’s aftermath, Pacquiao’s team claimed medication that would have helped the injury on fight night, and was pre-approved by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, was not allowed by Nevada State Athletic Commission, which said it had no knowledge of the injury until fight night.
Pacquiao’s pre-fight medical disclosure form, which he signed, indicated he did not have any pre-existing hand, arm or shoulder injuries.
“They didn’t think about the fans and the public that are now sitting there going, ‘Wait a minute, I spent $100, and you got dominated, you got neutralized, you got played, and now you want to blame it on a shoulder injury that you’ve known about for three weeks? I never would’ve bought the pay-per-view, much less paid $10,000 for a ticket,'” Ariza said.
Ariza said he was “livid” at Pacquiao’s injury claim but that Mayweather wasn’t when they watched the fight together.
“He was like, ‘Why you mad? You knew they were going to make stuff up,'” Ariza said.
Ariza worked 11 fights with Pacquiao, 10 of them as strength coach. During those 10 fights, Pacquiao averaged 860.7 punches per 36 minutes, the duration of a 12-round bout.
In four fights since Ariza was fired, Pacquiao has averaged 612.8 punches per 36 minutes, including just 429 in 36 minutes against Mayweather.
“He has been reduced to throwing just a little over 400,” Ariza said. “That’s the kind of dominance — and it’s fear — that Floyd instilled in him in the fight. He was afraid to come in. He was afraid to come in and get caught. The old Manny would have said, ‘(Forget) it.’ He would’ve just been bouncing around, throwing.
“He was flat, he was neutralized. He sat there and did that little pendulum thing, back and forth, and Floyd just kept him right there, waiting on him, waiting on him, thinking, ‘Well, OK, you going to do something?'”
Ariza said Pacquiao did not test the physical improvements Mayweather made during a training camp in which the pound-for-pound king incorporated some new elements, including swimming and cryotherapy.
“Manny didn’t even push our conditioning,” Ariza said. “He didn’t even test our strength. He didn’t even test our physicality. You committed the biggest screw-up on God’s green earth. You tried to box him. Are you out of your mind? That’s your game plan, to box the best boxer in the world?”