Alex Ariza Q&A: "It was science and Juan Manuel Marquez that knocked out Manny Pacquiao"
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (Dec 17, 2012)
Manny Pacquiao was knocked unconscious last week, the sight of the
eight-time champion lying on his face sent shock waves through the
boxing world. Luck had nothing to do with Juan Manuel Marquez’s counter
right hand that flattened Pacquiao. The Mexican icon had been working on
perfecting the punch for months.
entered the fight with thirty-nine knockouts to his credit. In three
previous encounters with Pacquiao however, he hadn’t been able to floor
his rival once. Last weekend in the third round, that streak ended. As
Pacquiao stepped back with his hands low, Marquez unleashed his right.
It arched slightly up like an ascending missile and came down squarely
on the side of the Filipino star’s face. Pacquiao crumbled to the canvas
on his back.
and conditioning trainer Alex Ariza was in Pacquiao’s corner during the
Marquez fight. For months leading up to the Marquez fight, he had seen
his training camp responsibilities minimized. Last week I spoke to Ariza
in depth about the Pacquiao loss, the aftermath, and the science of
strength and conditioning in boxing.
John J. Raspanti: Were you just as stunned as the rest of us when Manny Pacquiao was knocked out?
Of course, I was shocked. I’ve been with Manny for five years and I’ve
never seen him in that kind of condition. I think it was more of an
emotional shock than anything. At that moment, you have to get in touch
with the realism of the sport, which was Manny just got knocked out.
JJR: Where were you when the knock out occurred?
I was bending down to go up the stairs so I missed the big punch.
Later, watching it and seeing the pictures, how Manny and Marquez both
stepped forward, Marquez got there first. Manny lunged forward and got
hit. Doing that doubled the velocity of the punch.
JJR: Do you agree with Pacquiao’s advisor Michael Konz that the Marquez right hand was a lucky punch?
I don’t believe there’s any luck at this level. All the credit goes to
Marquez. He was getting hit with some good clean shots, he was bleeding,
but he was able to stay focused. Watching it over and over again, I
could see him keeping it together-still taking that half step back and
getting in position. He was still trying to measure Manny with that big
right hand. Obviously, he hit Manny with that punch in the third round
and put him down. So, he deserves a lot of credit. He was smart enough
to come in with a strategy. He was able to utilize his strength and
conditioning. He turned all of that into a big powerful right hand. Not
even Manny said that was luck. Marquez was planning it. We should have
noticed that. Manny made that double pump, and stepped way to the left.
I’ve never seen Marquez throw that punch in any other fight in his
career. He designed that punch just for Manny.
JJR: Pacquiao was ahead on all the scorecards entering the sixth round. How confident were you in the corner?
I was feeling a lot better after the third round for sure. When Manny
came back to the corner (after getting knocked down hard) he was all
there. It wasn’t such a cracking shot as much as a power punch. It was
an explosive punch. I was feeling very good. I think a lesser guy would
JJR: Pacquiao was very aggressive. Was there any concern he might be fighting a little too aggressively?
I was a little concerned because Manny was pulling back so much. He
would land the left hand and then dive back out. But, I’m just the
corner man you know. I can’t say too much. My main concern was that
Manny kept pulling back with his hands down.
For the fourth fight with Marquez, your role in Pacquiao’s camp was
dimensioned. Was there a reason for this and did it bother you?
Of course it did. I want to put this in a way where it doesn’t send
everybody off. All the losses we suffered this year have been because of
the lack of support for the strength and conditioning program. I
believe in what I do. It was hard to see some of the fighters I’ve
worked with getting knocked out (Pacquiao, Vyacheslav Senchenko and Amir
Khan). The common denominator in all those losses was that they all
abandoned the strength and conditioning program. I don’t want to say I
blame anyone. It’s very taxing. Unless you can show me something else,
that’s the one common denominator in all those losses.
JJR: There was a report that Freddie Roach and Pacquiao wanted to work on the sparring more for this fight.
Yes, they did. You know I can only push my agenda so far. You have to
remember that science is a four-letter word in boxing. You’re not going
to get anyone to rally around it. It’s not about boxing anymore. Like
Marquez and Manny, you’re talking about two guys who have learned all
they can about the sport. Marquez opted to work more on the strength and
conditioning and cut out some of the boxing.
Does Ariza see the Marquez victory, at the behest of his own guy, a win
for the strength and conditioning program that he so strongly believes
I hate to say it because it was against my own guy. It was ironic. The
one thing I felt I had the advantage, with all the fighters I worked
with, was I was only one using science and nutrition. I was applying it
to the sport. The opposition never had that. Now when Memo(Herida aka
Angel Hernandez) started working with Marquez we ended up being beat by
the same thing we had been beating everyone else with. This is nothing
against Nacho (Bernstein Marquez’s trainer) but it was science and Juan
Manuel Marquez that beat Manny Pacquiao. That wasn’t the same Marquez we
had seen before. He’s the same intelligent fighter and technician, but
it was exercise and nutrition that turned him into the relentless
fighter who could withstand Manny’s punches, and then be able to
generate that kind of explosiveness with one punch.
JJR: Do you believe any of the speculation regarding Marquez and steroids?
I don’t, and I’m going to tell you why. I’m a scientist and researcher.
I’ve studied how it works. I feel I’m very educated in what works. It’s
very hard for some people to understand. A well planned program and
consistency can make changes in areas that nobody would have ever
thought possible. Manny Pacquiao was in the same boat. You have to
remember that before I got to Manny, he had gone 12-rounds with Marco
Barrera and 12-rounds with Marquez. Then he knocked out David Diaz,
Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto. Why all of a sudden
was he doing that? All my fighters have tested clean for PEDS. Julio
Cesar Chavez was notorious for not being able to fight past six rounds.
Then suddenly he could. How did we flip it? How was Amir Khan able to
take 72 punches in the 10th round against Marcos
Maidano? It’s not just what I believe. The science helped my fighters. I
know what a good applied scientific and conditioning program can do. I
don’t think there’s any reason to doubt the sincerity of Marquez.
JJR: Explain what Marquez did to build himself up.
Look at Marquez. He’s never done anything different. He’s an old school
boxer, using old style boxing techniques and training, antiquated and
archaic as they are. You have to remember he was drinking a dozen raw
eggs and his own urine. Now you bring science in. You start applying a
consistent strength program-that is all science based. It’s all proven
and checked. You apply this to a person, like Marquez, who’s never done
anything like that and his body is going to go through a metamorphosis.
Marquez wasn’t bigger; he just appeared to the naked eye to be bigger.
He was in fact smaller. To our eyes, he looked bigger, but it was all
functional muscle that had been developed over the course of a
four-month period. Take Manny, he never really broke one hundred forty
seven pounds. He looked so much bigger, but it was really just muscle
JJR: At thirty-nine years old, how was Marquez able to get in such supreme condition?
I’ll tell you. He did it over a four-month period. He had time; it
wasn’t like a four week program where he was forcing it. I can assure
you there were days where he just rested, and ate and allowed his body
to recuperate and develop more muscle. So, over a four-month period, he
was working hard, then staggering it, and taking off some time to
recover, that’s why it took four months. That’s the reason to me there’s
no doubt (about PEDS). The facts override the rumors. It’s easier to
understand from a scientific vantage point. This was Memo’s third fight
with Marquez. He knows his body, he’s confident in the program, and he’s
seeing the results. In addition, Marquez now believes it. He’s seeing
the results. When you believe in it, you start to push harder.
JJR: Memo Heredia AKA Angel Hernandez has many non-believers in the boxing world. You happen to believe completely in Memo. Why?
I have no doubt about Memo. I was in Memo’s place once. A few years
ago, everyone was questioning Amir Khan, Julio, and Manny. Why would he
lie? Give the guy the credit he deserves. Give science the credit it
deserves. We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t develop a strong
and competitive body? Boxing is so small minded. They have a fear of the
unknown. Science can be such a plus.
JJR: Do you believe boxing will ever adopt a credible and consistent way of testing for steroids?
That’s a good question. I hope so. I’ve been talking to others about a
comprehensive and universal way of testing to keep everyone on a level
playing field. You’re going to have people like Eric Morales who
unfortunately tested positive for clenbuterol. There has to be people
who are qualified and educated working with the fighters. Some of these
guys couldn’t dump the trash of a professional team. They wouldn’t even
let them in the locker room to fold towels. You have to have the
credentials. In boxing, we’ll let anyone walk in off the street and
start applying something they’ve never even studied or read a book on.
The fighters’ job is to fight. They shouldn’t have to worry about their
JJR: Do you think Pacquiao should fight Marquez again?
In a perfect world, I would want Manny to adopt the strength and
conditioning program all over again from day one. Then I’d like him to
have a tune-up fight to get familiar with that feeling again. After that
then fight Marquez again and let me do my thing to help. I’d love to go
up against those guys.
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