Pacquiao must return to being a ‘street fighter’

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez at the press conference. (Photo courtesy of Chris Farina/Top Rank)

Strength and conditioning guru Alex Ariza appears heartened by Manny Pacquiao's luncheon news conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel when the "Fighter of the Decade" and eight-division world champion said he wanted "to erase the doubts of the fans (over his controversial third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez) and wants to showcase the old Pacquiao, the hungry Manny Pacquiao" when he was around 24 or 25 years old.

That's the period during which he battered Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera into submission in eleven rounds when Barrera's brother jumped into the ring and embraced him to prevent Barrera from being totally embarrassed.

It was also the period when he lost his first fight to Erik "El Terrible" Morales by a unanimous 12-round decision after suffering a nasty gash in the 5th round following an accidental clash of heads and came back with a vengeance to score a 10th round TKO and a 3rd round knockout over a battered and bruised Morales in their two succeeding fights of an epic trilogy.

The challenge, as Pacquiao himself said, is to put on a performance that will "put this fight into history."

Ariza, who first teamed up with celebrated trainer Freddie Roach some two weeks before Pacquiao scored a brutal 9th round TKO to win the WBC lightweight title from David Diaz and is largely credited for Pacquiao's superb condition when he pulverized Oscar De La Hoya, separated Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton from his senses in two rounds and dropped Miguel Cotto three times en route to a 12th round stoppage, is confident Manny can do it.

Ariza told Yahoo! Philippines that Pacquiao "must rely on volume (of punches), put on relentless pressure and be resilient and overwhelming."

But Ariza said for this kind of a style Pacquiao "will need to have a tip-top strength and conditioning program."

He drew a parallel between Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.'s fight against Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez and Pacquiao's own showing against Marquez the last time. He said "they did too much thinking and didn't do enough street fighting."

Ariza was confident that if Pacquiao went back to his street-fighting style that would confuse the other guy.

His formula is simple. Pacquiao "must go in there and be relentless. Go in there and tear his (Marquez') head off." He must say to himself "I don't care how I'm going to do it, but I'm going to get it done."

Ariza recalled that Pacquiao "tried to be the sophisticated boxer, meticulous, planning and setting up things. But now he must put his head down and just let his hands go because that's what brought Manny to where he is today. It's that kind of a style."

Although Freddie Roach and Pacquiao have come to terms to train exclusively at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, Ariza feels somewhat differently about it.

He confessed "I really like Baguio. Manny knows he has to be up in the morning to go to the places that we need to go to, to train. The gym is downstairs. Everything is convenient. Logistically it's very ideal. It gives a good base and a good foundation because of the altitude " which is over 5,000 feet.

Training at the Wild Card "Manny must be ready to get up in the mornings, beat the traffic and show up on time, I'm all for it. I just want to get the work done, the real work done."

Asked whether he feels Pacquiao can return to the hungry fighter he was some years ago, Ariza recalled what legendary Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. told him while they were in Las Vegas for the Chavez, Jr.-Martinez fight.

He quoted Chavez, Sr. who said "the problem with Manny is he thinks too much and when he does some things he gives Marquez time. But when Manny loosens up and lets it go, Marquez looks lost. He didn't know what to do at times. That's Manny Pacquiao."

Chavez said, "You don't know what he's doing when he throws so many punches. You don't have time to figure and set up a counter punch because it's boom-boom-boom and its coming from everywhere."

The Mexican warrior noted when you see Pacquiao trying to do one thing, and step over here, step over there and this and that. That's not his style. His style is let your hands go and go after him."

Ariza quoted Chavez as telling him, "When Manny Pacquiao lets his hands go I don't believe there is anybody who can deal with that."

Ariza indicated that Marquez looked good and had been training and had some nice things to say about the Mexican's strength and conditioning coach Angel "Memo" Heredia, who had quietly changed his name to Angel Hernandez but was identified as the person who supplied steroids to US Olympic track stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery and became a government witness in the case against BALCO that landed the company's founder Victor Conte in jail.

Ariza described Heredia as "an extremely educated, very talented guy and I think we definitely have our work cut out because when you have somebody like that who has such a deep science background from such an accredited university like Texas A&M, he brings in the cutting edge of exercise science to the table, and I think that Marquez is where he is today because of Heredia."

He noted that Heredia prolonged the career of Marquez, who is 38, because "he knows how to train him, how to feed him, when to let him rest and when to make him work. Whether boxing wants to accept it or not training a fighter is a science."

Ariza said he is hoping for what everybody else is hoping for. He added, "I'm hoping for Manny to come into camp very motivated, very focused and accept the fact that he has to go in there and knock out Marquez to get him back to the upper echelons and the pinnacle of the sport to where he was before, and that there won't be a question in anybody's mind who the best fighter in the world is — Manny Pacquiao."

Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.