Lem Satterfield

Roach: Ariza’s absence not a factor in Khan’s KO loss to Garcia

Five-time Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach says the absence of strength and conditioning guru Alex Ariza for only the second time in Amir Khan’s past 10 fights was not among the reasons that the former titleholder was knocked out in the fourth round by Danny Garcia in last Saturday night’s HBO-televised bout.

Garcia’s triumph added Khan’s WBA junior welterweight belt as well as the division’s RING championship to the WBC crown he already owned, this, after referee Kenny Bayless asked Khan if he still could continue before waving an end to the fight at 2 minutes, 28 seconds following the third knockdown — the second of the fourth round.

During an interview with RingTV.com, Bayless said that among the reasons was the fact that “in my opinion, Amir’s leg’s were shot, and his balance was off.”

Ariza, who has been replaced by Ruben Tabares, could not be reached for commment. But during an interview with RingTV.com nearly a year ago to the day, Ariza said that the strengthening of the legs is important in supporting the neck.

“I don’t think that [Ariza's absence was a factor.] The new strength coach is a hurdler,” said Roach, who has denied that Khan has specifically expressed the desire to end their association, contrary to reports.

“And I don’t think that Amir’s legs gave out in three rounds. I thought that the new guy did a very good job. But Ariza is very good at what he does also.”

In the past, Ariza contended that it was the strength in Khan’s legs that facilitated his survival through the treacherous 10th round of his unanimous decision victory over Marcos Maidana in December of 2010.

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“When he was hurt by Marcos Maidana, I told Freddie that all we needed was about 15 seconds and that he would come right back. I think that the biggest misconception is that theory about the chin, and this is just a theory of mine, and that is that the strength of the chin has to do with something in the neck or the jaw muscles or things like that. But really, when you get hit, what’s the first thing that goes? The legs. So, so much of my work that I do for these fighters is that I concentrate on the legs,” said Ariza.

“So the drills, the balancing, the positions I put them in where the legs are stable when you’re completely fatigued, I think that that was the key element for Amir against Marcos Maidana. I knew that once Amir was able to get a few seconds in, moving around, that his legs would find their stability because they had been there before. Amir has been there where he feels like they’re not under him and things like that. So these are things that we’ve done before, so it was nothing new for him to feel like that and to recover from it.”

Khan began working with Roach and Ariza following his 54-second knockout loss to Breidis Prescott as a lightweight in Sept. of 2008.

From there, Khan won eight straight fights, four of them by knockout, and earned two title belts. That stretch also included knockouts of New Yorkers Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi, as well as victories over former beltholders Maidana, Marco Antonio Barrera and Andreas Kotelnik.

The loss to Garcia was the second in a row for Khan, whose winning streak under Roach ended with December’s controversial split-decision loss to Lamont Peterson.

Ariza was absent from Khan’s corner just one other time during the winning spree — that being Khan’s six-round, technical decision victory over Paul McCloskey in April of last year — but returned for Khan’s fifth-round stoppage of Judah.

Khan also shares Roach with eight-division titlewinner Manny Pacquiao and WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., whose respective training regimens took place in preparation for title bouts they participated in last month.

First into the ring was Pacquiao, who dropped a controversial split-decision to then-WBO junior welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley that dethroned him as WBO welterweight beltholder on June 9. A week later on June 16, Chavez Jr. scored an impressive seventh-round knockout victory over southpaw challenger Andy Lee.

Roach said Khan chose to end his relationship during a stretch when Ariza left the Philippines, where Khan was training alongside Pacquiao, to be with Chavez Jr.

“Alex left Amir high and dry in the Philippines, and we had to make a choice. We had to go with someone else, and Ruben was available and Ruben did very well,” said Roach.

“He put Amir on a very, very good diet, Amir made weight very easily. He made weight four days before the fight. I thought that Ruben did a very good job.”

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Chavez Jr. will be back in the ring on Sept. 15 for a defense against RING champion Sergio Martinez. Pacquiao has a targeted return date of Nov. 10, perhaps against Bradley or for a fourth bout opposite Juan Manuel Marquez, with whom Pacquiao has battled through a draw, as well as split- and majority decision victories, respectively.

Roach said that he expects Khan to return to the ring in December, adding that he would like to get a rematch with Garcia. Roach also said that he recently met with Khan and the fighter’s father, Shah Khan, regarding how to navigate the time spent working with Chavez Jr., Pacquiao and Khan in the future.

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

 

 

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