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ALEX ARIZA: "IT'S SAFER FOR MANNY TO FIGHT AT 147"

By Ben Thompson | April 11, 2011
ALEX ARIZA:

"I think when you're an athlete, especially in this game, if you're afforded that ability to go ahead and move up a little bit and build your body and make it more durable and stronger and more resistant; you know, this is a combative sport and your body is getting punched and hit, so trying to fight at your natural weight and then, on top of that, not gain any muscle or build your body to make it more durable, to me, that doesn't make any sense. It's safer for Manny to fight at 147 pounds. Even though he's not fighting at 147 and he's fighting at 145 or 146, his body is a lot denser; it's more athletic. It's built different and it's been prepared and trained better, so I wouldn't want to get him to 145 and then try to get him all the way down to 140. What would be the point of that? Why not fight at where you're strongest," stated Alex Ariza, strength and conditioning coach of Manny Pacquiao, as he gave us an update on how training camp has been going for the upcoming May 7th showdown with "Sugar" Shane Mosley. Check out what Ariza had to say about how Pacquiao's been doing in sparring, how he's looking physically, and much more.

BT: So how'd everything go this past week? How did Manny's sparring go today?

AA: Big day, man. It was a lot better than we expected, for sure, because I just thought maybe he was working himself a little hard this week and I tried to get him to take off this morning, but he didn't. I just thought he was pushing it a little bit. I could see he was just kinda like dragging, but I don't know, Manny's unusual. As soon as he puts those gloves on, it's just a whole different ball game. He did four rounds with Shawn Porter. He started off with Karim Mayfield. He did four rounds with him and he did four rounds with Shawn Porter and he closed the show, man. He looked great.

BT: The first time I ever saw Shawn Porter fight, my first thought was that he fought a little like Shane Mosley.

AA: Yeah, yeah. I tell you what, he's a lot different fighter than he was a year ago when he first started with us back with the Cotto camp and he was the main sparring partner back then. He's a completely different fighter now. I was really impressed with him today; the way his angles are, he's not as wild, he takes his time, he puts his shots together well. I just was really impressed with him as well.

BT: With his style, he's probably one of the best guys you could go out and get to help prepare for a fight with Shane Mosley.

AA: Yeah, for sure. Mayfield's also really good too. He's a lot like him [Mosley] with that nervous energy. The two guys are almost identical.

BT: What was your focus on this past week? Was it mainly speed or was it getting the body ready to train heavier like you were talking about the last time we spoke?

AA: Well, we kind of just did a little bit of both, trying to hold onto the weight and getting him adjusted to the weight. He wasn't feeling so well this week, you know? He kind of carried something over from Manilla, but he shook it off pretty well towards the end of the week, so we kinda didn't push him as hard as we normally would've pushed him, but with Freddie being gone next week, that's when we're really going to be able to pick up the pace. Nobody is going to be able to give Manny that same level of intensity that Freddie does as far as doing mitts and stuff like that, so, you know, that's when we'll be able to pick it up doing other things and making other things harder.

BT: How long is Freddie going to be gone?

AA: He'll be gone the whole week.

BT: I guess to some degree, that's kind of a good thing because it gives you an opportunity to focus on some of the other things that you want to work on as far as his physique is concerned.

AA: Exactly, and also it will give Manny a chance to take a little break as well.

BT: With Freddie not being there, are you concerned that there may be some distractions with the captain of the ship being gone?

AA: I'm going to follow whatever the paper that Freddie leaves says as far as when it comes to the boxing, and as far as the mornings and whatever it is I have to do, then I'll do whatever I think we should do. I think we should take advantage of the time that Freddie's not there, since we're probably not going to have the most intense mitt sessions, that's when I'll just take it up another notch during the strength and conditioning routines. Maybe push it harder on track days; maybe push it harder on the drill days, working legs harder since we're not going to be getting that kind of work in the gym. I'll just look at whatever Freddie maps out and I'll just wrap my thing around it.

BT: As far as you're concerned, is everything on track with Manny regarding his physique and his conditioning?

AA: I'm happy. I think next week, at the end of the week, I'll be even more happy once I start to see that body fill in. We'll start cutting down probably on the boxing because, like I said, Freddie won't be there and we'll pick up the other stuff and his body will just start to fill in nice. I always like those really dense, durable bodies because you just never know.

BT: Recently, Manny was on a radio show and said that he felt like 140 pounds was his natural weight class. Coming from your perspective, do you think Manny would be better off fighting at 140 or do you think he's okay fighting at 147 pounds?

AA: He's in between, you know? I think when you're an athlete, especially in this game, if you're afforded that ability to go ahead and move up a little bit and build your body and make it more durable and stronger and more resistant; you know, this is a combative sport and your body is getting punched and hit, so trying to fight at your natural weight and then, on top of that, not gain any muscle or build your body to make it more durable, to me, that doesn't make any sense. It's safer for Manny to fight at 147 pounds. Even though he's not fighting at 147 and he's fighting at 145 or 146, his body is a lot denser; it's more athletic. It's built different and it's been prepared and trained better, so I wouldn't want to get him to 145 and then try to get him all the way down to 140. What would be the point of that? Why not fight at where you're strongest?

BT: When you start working with a fighter for the first time, is it difficult to get them to buy into the type of things you want them to do as far as nutrition and training is concerned?

AA: That's a good question. It depends. I mean, going all the way back to Diego [Corrales], they get to the point to where they've done so much suffering in trying to make weight that they're almost at your beck and call for whatever it is that you want them to do. They're just so helpless, you know? Usually they're just throwing themselves at you for whatever. Chavez Jr., especially, never gave me any problems. Amir Khan never gave me any problems. Vanes [Martirosyan] never gave me any problems. Manny gave me problems though because it was just so completely on the other side of the spectrum of what he was used to and had grown up doing, you know? For Chavez, Vanes and Amir, drinking water before a weigh-in made absolutely no sense because it was something that they couldn't comprehend. But I use a different way of using water techniques to lose weight. It's just different than what they're used to, you know? They normally stop eating on a Tuesday and they stop drinking on Wednesday and Thursday and start sweating for the next 3 days; it's just so archaic the way that they use their methods. But, like I said, they've gone through so much suffering and disaster after disaster that they're pretty much open to whatever. But once you teach them, boy, you never have another problem with them.

BT: When you first go into camp with Manny, how soon do you expect to see results and how do you know when something is not going right?

AA: Well, I always believe in sticking to the basics. You do the body compensation Monday morning, first thing. You find out the fat to muscle ratio. You start to figure out what the exercise program and the training routines are going to be for the week, and you start putting together the diet, you know, the caloric intake it's going to take to maintain that. And then you start to put together the outside stuff to where we're going to start to ty to get ourselves a little bit bigger and stronger. So the following week, when you start to look at the numbers, if the numbers don't match, then you gotta start making changes. But we've been doing this awhile, so we almost have it, I don't want to say we have it down, but we know pretty much. Like I said, we look at the old records that we have, the old paperwork, and look at the old numbers and if we're within reach, we just make the little small adjustments. But we try not to do anything too drastic change-wise.

BT: So once you've worked with a guy for so long, you almost start to know their body better than they do.

AA: Exactly. Yeah, you do. You can read them. I think that's what has made me a better coach, being around Freddie. You learn to read the fighter. I know when I should pull back a little bit. I know when I should just give them a day to rest. I know when I should give them more. You just learn to read their body language and I think that just comes with experience.

BT: Do you pretty much just stick to the same techniques with all of your fighters, whether it's Manny, Chavez, Vanes, etc.?

AA: I wish. I wish. You know, Chavez, Vanes, and when I had Amir, they're all coming down. Manny's the one coming up. So I have to deal with both sides. There's no easy way for either one of those guys. You know, Manny has to constantly be eating all the time, making him miserable. And Vanes, you know, he's 6' and Julio is 6'1", and Vanes fights at 154 and Julio at 160, so you just have to make sure their day, you cannot afford not to be absolutely meticulous about every step of the way because they have to eat at exact certain times, their caloric intake has to be perfect, we have to watch how much they're burning throughout the day so they don't sacrifice any muscle. They're harder, for sure. Those guys are harder. The margin of error for those guys is absolutely none. Manny, you know, I can be a pound under or I can be two pounds under. Those guys, we have a set day, a set time, a set weight and you cannot be off.

BT: So would you say it's more difficult to lose the weight or is it more difficult to pack the weight on?

AA: It's equally as hard because with Manny, you're talking about putting on weight, but maintaining speed. It's not just about putting on weight. You're talking about putting on functional muscle. It's functional muscle that has to serve a function and it has to be able to respond the same way as the other base muscle does, with the same explosiveness and the same speed without losing any of that. With Vanes and with Julio, you're talking about maintaining speed and power and coming down in weight. You're always going to ride that fine line, you know? You gotta give up something. If you're losing weight too quick and not the right way, you're going to give up that power. Same with Manny. You move him up too fast, then I'm going to lose that speed. You never win. It's never going to be easy.

BT: Alex, I appreciate the updates on Manny's training. I'll check in later in the week to see how things are going. I'm going to have to get some tips from you to use in my own workouts.

AA: For sure, bro. If you have any random questions, just give me a call. And if anyone else would like some tips, just visit my blog at MPBoxing.com. I've got some good info on protein and I'm going to talk about hyperhydration and water and how important it is and how it's a shuttle for all of the stuff that we're eating. It's a good one, so check it out. Fans can ask me question in the comments.

FOR MORE DIET AND NUTRITION TIPS FROM ALEX ARIZA, VISIT HIS BLOG ON MPBOXING.COM



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