"I got that phone call from Robert Garcia and I was actually kind of shocked, you know, like a surreal moment...We spent about 3 hours almost talking and going over everything. An amazing family and story; I got to listen to the father and how it all came about. It's a big deal, so it's an honor and a huge responsibility for me. I think it's a bigger deal for me because it's not just a fighter to them. It's not only their flesh and blood, it's their brother, it's their son. They're entrusting me with that kind of responsibility and to me, that speaks volumes and volumes. I'm going to do everything I can to ensure that we go in there tip top and ready for whatever he brings," stated world-class Strength & Conditioning coach Alex Ariza, who talked about his eagerness to begin working with undefeated featherweight contender Mikey Garcia and how it all came about. Check it out!
BT: Alex, what's going on bro? Give me the scoop. How'd you working with Mikey Garcia come about?
AA: It's kind of weird. It started off as kind of rumor. I just kind of hear that there may be some interest. It's one of those things where you don't want to get too excited over a rumor. I was referred to him and, you know, asked if I could possibly help Mikey with this big shot if everything had went well with the fight he just had. So I was approached and talked briefly in Las Vegas, and then we set up a meeting like Thanksgiving night. I mean, you know, even though they say something, it doesn't necessarily mean anything is really solidified or set in stone. I got that phone call from Robert Garcia and I was actually kind of shocked, you know, like a surreal moment. He was like, "Hey, you know, my father, Mikey, let's sit down, let's see if we can make this thing happen, if we're going to be a match, if we can all agree on what we need to do for this fight, you know, Mikey's biggest fight of his career." So I a said, "Absoutley," and got in the car, made the drive down there, and got to sit down with them and eat with them. We spent about 3 hours almost talking and going over everything. An amazing family and story; I got to listen to the father and how it all came about. It's a big deal, so it's an honor and a huge responsibility for me. I think it's a bigger deal for me because it's not just a fighter to them. It's not only their flesh and blood, it's their brother, it's their son. They're entrusting me with that kind of responsibility and to me, that speaks volumes and volumes. I'm going to do everything I can to ensure that we go in there tip top and ready for whatever he brings.
BT: What's that whole process like? Do you have to mesh well with both the fighter and the trainer, is it just totally up to the fighter, or does it just depend on who it is?
AA: Well, I think, you know, the Garcias, with that situation, of course you have to mesh well with the family because from the fighters all the way up to the immediate blood relatives, they treat each other like everybody is a family. So yeah, of course I need to mesh well with the trainer because if I don't have their confidence and their trust in what I'm doing, I think the fighter will see it and it will eventually affect the fighter. And vice versa. If Mikey feels like I'm being forced on him and this isn't exactly what he wants, then it will obviously affect everything. Yeah, it was very important that we all got to sit down and get to know each other and each other's personality; squash rumors. We don't know each other that well, so it's a getting to know each other period as well as our plan for this battle.
BT: The fight with Salido is right around the corner, January 19, so are you guys already jumping right into it or are you just waiting until after Manny's fight?
AA: I will definitely wait until Manny's done. My focus right now, again, is just on Marquez and Manny only. Fortunately I still have 6 weeks with Mikey after Manny's fight, which is plenty of time for the work that I do. So we're going to keep in contact, we're going to get the diet going, we're going to get the supplements going, we're going to get him warmed up, and Robert will obviously be in control and take charge of everything, and when I get there, I'll be able to pick up with the conditioning and the strength training.
BT: When you first start working with a fighter, obviously it's the first time they're being introduced to your system and your techniques. Is it a shock for them? I mean, do you kind of jump right in feet first with them into everything or do you kind of ease into it?
AA: I try not to do anything that's going to make them feel too uncomfortable, which is why Robert or the father will be doing a lot of the stuff in the morning. They have a plan already. Everything that we're going to do from now until I get there in two weeks will compliment whatever I'm going to do. In other words, he'll be warmed up; there won't be no big shock to the system or anything that's going to put him out for 2 or 3 days. I think when these guys have been doing their own think, like, you know, Robert says, "Very old school; we know what to do," I try not to overwhelm them with too much craziness. You know, Mikey's an athletic guy. It's not like I'm dealing with some 40-year-old guy who's never done anything. He's a young kid, he's athletic, so I don't assume anything that whatever I bring to him is going to send him for a spin. He's up for the challenge, he's athletic, and he's not 30-0 for no reason.
BT: Like you said earlier, this is obviously going to be the biggest fight of his career. I know when fighters start working with a trainer for the first time, they usually need a fight or two to get used to each other and they normally don't jump right into that big of a fight. Does that make it more difficult for you having to work with a fighter for the first time for the biggest fight their career?
AA: Honestly Ben, I live for this shit; I live for those challenges, I live for that pressure, I live for the doubters, the haters. That's when I really feel that I rise to the occasion and I do my best work, and I know this is going to be one of those things. I'm not going in overconfident, but I know how meticulous that I will be, I know the time that I'm going to have one on one with him, and I know that I have an amazing team, and I always like to mention them. Obviously Teri Tom, who's been with me since Pacquiao/De La Hoya, Henry Marchena, and now Christa Pryor, who is taking care of Manny's legs. But I have a great team, and it's not just me going in there. Whatever comes up, I can bounce it off other experts. So like I said, I live for these kind of moments. The bigger the stage and the more complex, the better for me because it makes me become better and study harder and try to make sure I make no mistakes.
BT: Obviously Robert Garcia has a big stable of fighters with a lot of big names. Is this a scenario where working with Mikey could potentially open up the door with some of Robert's other fighters?
AA: It's so funny, everybody keeps asking me that. I'll be honest, I'm more excited working with Robert than to even think past that. Honestly, I haven't really got past Mikey, you know, because I think he has such an incredible future ahead of him. And I didn't realize how big he was. I was like, "Geesh, 126." I mean, just because it's my nature to start looking at his physical future, I can already start to put together 130, 135, 140, you know? I mean, you just start to see what you have to work with; it's just so much. But my focus right now, like I said, I'm grateful to just be working with Robert, the father, and more importantly, I'm just going to focus on Mikey. Whatever comes after that is just icing on the cake.