Hong Kong: Manny Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach was involved in a physical bust-up with Brandon Rios’s team as the build-up to this weekend’s title showdown turned ugly on Wednesday.
Footage showed an angry, expletive-laden row followed by Rios’s conditioning coach Alex Ariza kicking Roach in the chest as the veteran trainer steps towards him.
Roach had taken Rios’s team to task for apparently overshooting their allotted time at training facilities in Macau, which Pacquiao was due to use.
Ariza later admitted kicking Roach, who is 53 and suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, but said he had no regrets ahead of Sunday’s World Boxing Organisation welterweight title fight.
“You could see the way he (Roach) came in he wanted to kick something off,” he said on the footage posted on YouTube by SecondsOut.com.
“He cocked his fists back and to me that’s a sign of aggression coming towards me. He got physical and he came at me, and yeah, he got a front kick in the chest.
“When you raise your fists at somebody the other person has a right to defend themselves and that’s what I was doing.”
Roach said Ariza “kicked me like a girl” as the two sides continued to taunt each other beside the training ring set up in the Macau gym.
The two camps have history after Rios did an impression of Roach that infuriated the celebrity trainer because he said it mocked his Parkinson’s Disease.
Pacquiao, 34, is hoping to bounce back from two successive defeats when he faces the 27-year-old Rios on Sunday morning.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum shrugged off the altercation between the two camps.
“We have a fight already and it’s still a few days out,” he said, according to Yahoo Sports.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao has been blogging his thoughts about the fight each week. A portion of his fourth and final blog post appears below, courtesy of HBO. In it, Pacquiao discusses his relationship with trainer Freddie Roach.
“We bonded the first time we ever worked together and that was at [Hollywood’s] Wild Card Boxing Club in 2001. My then-manager brought me to Wild Card looking for someone to hit the mitts with me and Freddie volunteered. After the first round I went back to my corner and said, “I just found my new trainer,” and Freddie went back to his corner and said, “I just found my new fighter.” We’ve been a team ever since.
“Our first fight together was when we got a late call to challenge IBF junior featherweight champion Lehlo Ledwaba. We had only worked together four or five weeks and we won our first world title together when I knocked Ledwaba out. If that’s not a sign I don’t know what is. It was providence.
“My English was not very good back then but we had no problem understanding each other. Our success as a professional team can be read on my resume, but it’s our relationship outside the ring which has meant so much more to me.
“At various times Freddie has been a father and a brother to me. When I needed advice or assistance he always came through for me, either personally or by setting me up with the right people. He has been such a big influence on me and he has had a great impact on my life and my career. He gave me the foundation to become the person I am today and if not for Freddie perhaps I would not be able to accomplish the things I have. I am successful and independent because of the years of guidance Freddie has given to me.
“As a trainer Freddie inspires me to be the best I can be inside the gym and inside the ring. He is a wonderful teacher. The way he lives his life and faces his affliction inspires me personally and spiritually.
“Freddie Roach has been good for my soul. He has been a blessing. I never want to let Master Freddie down and I will always pray for him.”
Where to watch the fight
Kitakits Kafe & Klubb: November 24, from 5am onwards. Watch the live broadcast while enjoying the breakfast buffet with live cooking stations. Dh55 per person. Kitakits offers free shuttle for groups of over 30 people. Call 04 2720000 or 0555145886