by Matt Gerovac
Manny Pacquiao, Brandon Rios, and their respective camps arrived in Macau, China earlier this week and are sharing the same training facility until their clash this Saturday, November 23.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
It doesn’t take a genius to predict that a shared facility sets the stage for a potentially volatile situation, but initially both sides seemed cordial and respectful. Not long after they arrived, the fighters posed for photos together at the Great Wall of China and visited Tiananmen Square, never letting on that they’ll be trying to knock one another out this Saturday.
However, the climate quickly changed after an incident Tuesday morning. Rios was scheduled to be interviewed on ESPN early Tuesday, but the piece went longer than expected. As a result, his workout was pushed back and ran into Pacquioa’s allotted gym time. Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, entered the training facility around 11 am Macau time. With cameras rolling, Roach told Rios’ trainer Robert Garcia to “get the [expletive] out of here,” calling him “a piece of [expletive].”
The incident quickly escalated as Rios’ conditioning coach, Alex Ariza (Pacquiao’s former conditioning coach who was fired by Roach) told Roach to “get the [expletive] out of the gym.”
Roach replied by challenging Ariza, saying, “Throw me out. Make me leave.” Ariza then kicked Roach in the mid section. The extra-curricular activity didn’t end there, as Roach called Rios camp assistant Donald Leary a “stupid Mexican,” prompting Leary to take a swing at him.
As the melee subsided, Ariza called the Parkinson’s disease-affected Roach “a stuttering prick” as Roach exited the facility.
To put an exclamation point on the whole exchange, Garcia yelled, “Roach, now it’s personal, [expletive].” After Rios’ camp cleared out, Pacquiao’s workout was closed to the media per Roach’s request.
Rios seemed unaffected by the drama as he smiled and asked, “Can’t we all just get along?”
Well, apparently not. This was exactly the type of incident this fight needed to jumpstart the rumor mill and fire up fans even more. As this pay per view mega event inches closer, tensions will certainly continue to increase. For boxing fans worldwide and for the sake of boxing as a sport, hopefully the fight itself will live up to the hype.