BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – It’s common knowledge that Manny Pacquiao fell victim to myriad distractions during the few weeks he trained in the Philippines prior to his fight against Antonio Margarito in November, leaving him in less-than-perfect condition for the fight.
How less than perfect? Alex Ariza, his conditioning coach, said his client was at a startling 60 percent of peak form.
That level of conditioning was adequate against an opponent as limited as Margarito, a plodding, easy-to-hit brawler who Pacquiao defeated by a one-sided decision. Still, he paid a price. He took unnecessary punishment because, Ariza said, he did something he never does — he got tired.
Ariza said he was very disappointed.
“You can have a good program and make it great by working consistently,” he said before a news conference Thursday to promote the Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight on May 7. “You can have a phenomenal program and, if you’re not consistent, make it bad program. Everything I do is about consistency. Unfortunately, it’s not easy. The training is hard but the fight becomes easier.
“I told Manny, ‘If that’s the way you want to train, you’re better off without me.’ He said, ‘No no, bro. Never again.’”
Pacquiao was asked repeatedly Thursday about his training before the Margarito fight and wouldn’t acknowledged that it was subpar, at least in comparison to his own high-powered camps of the past.
He would only say that he and Ariza focused more on building strength to contend with Margarito’s size advantage than movement and quickness, as he would in most fights.
However, trainer Freddie Roach has said openly that Pacquiao’s workouts in his native country were lacking because he was pulled in so directions by so many people. Once he landed back at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., for the final three weeks of training, though, he was 100 percent focused.
“He was like a machine,” Roach said. “He did his thing, got in shape like he always does. I just think he did a little too much too close to the fight, that’s all.”
Has Pacquiao learned his lesson?
“A hundred percent,” Roach said. “This time, we talked, there’ll be less distractions in the Philippines. We’re going to do four weeks there and four weeks in L.A. He’ll be ready.”
Ariza agrees but wants to see it for himself.
“He says he did (learn his lesson),” he said. “He says he’ll do things differently. The first thing that came out of his mouth when he saw me (in Los Angeles) was, ‘Do you have my vitamins ready? Do you have my equipment ready?’ I said, ‘absolutely.’
“So it’s in his head now. We’ll see.”