"Everything is going really well, man. I mean, surprisingly so. Honestly, I've always been a fan of Brandon. I think a lot of people knew that, you know, just the way his style is and stuff like that. I didn't ever think I'd be working with the guy, but Brandon's probably one of the most dedicated athletes I ever met...Again man, he's into the program. He's into the lifestyle of eating. He's into the way of training. He's into everything. These guys have a respect for the sport and they have a respect for their trainers. I'm not really used to that to be honest with you," stated world-class Strength & Conditioning coach Alex Ariza, who talked about his work with Brandon Rios and much more. Check it out!
BT: What's up, Double A? How's everything been going with Brandon [Rios]? You guys have been working together for a few weeks now, right?
AA: Yeah, 3 weeks now. Everything is going really well, man. I mean, surprisingly so. Honestly, I've always been a fan of Brandon. I think a lot of people knew that, you know, just the way his style is and stuff like that. I didn't ever think I'd be working with the guy, but Brandon's probably one of the most dedicated athletes I ever met, man. Look, that guy is 100% crazy (laughing) and nuts, but man, when it comes to getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning, eating right, training hard, you know, going back to the gym and putting in 100%, dude, he's right up there with Amir Khan. To me, Amir Khan was probably the pinnacle of a dedicated, not-a-complainer athlete, and he's right there with him. I mean, he has no problems getting up at 5 and driving to the track. He's got no problems getting in the cold pool and busting his ass in the water. Dude, he's not a complainer. I mean, he's 100% in this. I got so much support here. Robert Garcia is there every step of the way. But you know, I don't know what else I was expecting. I mean, I think a lot of people forget Robert Garcia was a world champion. He's a fighter. He's about winning and doing what's best for his fighters, and just watching him work is like going back to school all over again.
BT: What would you say is the difference between working with Brandon and working with Manny? Is there a different level of dedication considering that this is the first time Brandon has worked with you?
AA: Yeah. I'll be honest with you, having Mikey [Garcia] there and Brandon training together is an invaluable asset, man. You got two fighters, two elite athletes, two guys right at the pinnacle of their careers. They feed off of each other. They motivate each other. They run harder. They train harder. They swim harder. They get up with each other in the mornings. They're eating the same things. They're on the same program. They're obviously seeing my specialist Terri Tom, you know, who's part of the whole team, so everybody is working together and on the same program. But more importantly, to have Robert and the father there supporting it, you know, pushing it; I mean, I don't know the last time I've seen a trainer get up at 5 o'clock in the morning and go there and watch the fighters and be so involved the way that they are. It's just like everybody is part of the team. He doesn't want to see these guys have the struggles they've had in the past and he knows my team has been so exceptional at bringing guys in on weight and having great conditioning. That's the only thing that's really missing for them to get to the next level. It is the dedication, it is the commitment, it is knowing that every day is a hard day. There is no easy day and they get up and they're down for it.
BT: Well I've seen some pictures of Brandon and he already looks like you're making a major impact.
AA: Again man, he's into the program. He's into the lifestyle of eating. He's into the way of training. He's into everything. These guys have a respect for the sport and they have a respect for their trainers. I'm not really used to that to be honest with you. That's kind of gone to the wayside. Robert is very strict when it comes to the time, when you're training; you don't get to tell Robert, "Well, I'm doing this many rounds." You don't get to tell Robert that kind of shit. Robert lets you know what you're going to do and how it's going to be run, and I think that's a big, big, huge difference. We've got Nonito Donaire coming. We've got Marcos Maidana coming. I mean, you're having all these elite athletes coming and showing up. The phones have been really ringing off the hook for more and more guys to come out. It's unbelievable the response we've gotten.
BT: So are you going to be working with all of Robert's guys now or is it just a handful of them?
AA: Robert and I did talk and we believe the same thing; the most important thing right now is Mikey and Brandon. If there's other guys that want to get involved, Robert will decide that. He's very organized. He knows how to control his fighters. There's no egos. Everybody has their schedule, has their time; there's no prima donnas in the camp. Whoever is going to need it is going to be involved and he's going to put them there. Whoever can do without it, he won't.
BT: When do you guys head over to Macau?
AA: I think they're going to give us 2 weeks in Macau.
BT: Have you been over there before, and if not, is it difficult to condition someone for an environment you're not that familiar with?
AA: I've never been in Macau, but I've got a lot of experience with it [conditioning someone for a new environment]; most of the experience has come with Amir Khan. My first two fights with him were in England; we would train here and go to England, so I've learned the system and I know what to do to acclimate to the jetlag. I have a few things that I do that help with that. Thankfully, training with Amir Khan and having to go to England was a big help in learning what to do when to get there; you learn over time what to do to make the transition and the acclimation a little easier.
BT: So I've seen the subtle shots that Freddie Roach has taken at you and obviously I've seen your response, but I'm curious, did Manny ever talk to you about any of this? Did he ever officially let you know that he didn't want you to work with him anymore? You just kind of found out online, right?
AA: I did, and then I also found out from some people inside his camp that Manny was interested in talking to me and bringing me back, trying to just smooth things over with everybody, but unfortunately, by that time, it was too late. I had already made a commitment and given my word to Brandon and Robert. But again, it's nothing personal for me. I'm just doing my job and that's all I can do. You know, sometimes in sports, you end up playing against your friends. That's just how it is. I think Manny understands that. I think everybody else is just really making it more of an issue than it is; they're trying to make it about me and Freddie more than anything else.
BT: Obviously you were with Manny for a long time. I'm sure a lot of people are wondering just how much knowledge transfer is going on. How big of an impact do you think this move can potentially have on the outcome of the fight?
AA: I think it's just the conditioning I'm doing with Brandon. You know, I think one writer wrote something that put things in perspective. The biggest fights that Manny had are the fights that I was training him, the ones that he was following my team's training regimen, the diet, everything, so as a team, we were very successful and Manny was just blazing through the weight divisions, but Freddie decided that he wanted to take control and he thought that On Freddie Roach was on 24 hours a day, and that's when the problems became evident. As far as everything, you know, I know Manny's weaknesses and strengths; Manny's only weakness is Freddie. No matter how it sounds, the truth is the truth and everybody knows that. Just look at the record and look at the performances, and that speaks volumes.
BT: You recently made the comment that Freddie is getting his fighters KO'd. Do you think that's due to his training abilities and his game planning, or does it have more to do with his decision to move people like you out in favor of taking back more of the responsibilities of preparing his fighters?
AA: You've been in boxing a long time, Ben, so you tell me. I mean, you have a guy that I worked with for 3 years consecutively with all the fighters, he wins Trainer of the Year for 4 consecutive years in a row, he has over 25 consecutive wins with me, and then his head got bigger than the moon and all of a sudden, he goes on a 2-year losing streak and he wants to kick me out of everybody's camp. Just look at it. He got me out of Linares's camp, he got Linares knocked out. He got me out of Senchenko's camp, he got Senchenko knocked out by Malignaggi. I mean, Malignaggi's a great puncher, but he's not a knockout guy. Amir Khan, we've had some of the biggest and best wars in boxing, and he survived and he's won them, and he got me out of that camp and he got him knocked out. He told Manny, you know, he can train himself and don't listen to me, and he got Manny knocked out. So you tell me. But you know what, everybody is just looking at what I just said. Look at what Julio said, you know? He said that Freddie wasn't the trainer for him because physically he just couldn't do it. Amir said the same thing. Just because it's Freddie Roach, it doesn't mean it's blasphemy. There's nothing wrong with getting to a point to where you can't do it anymore. You have to know your limitations. Your limitations are starting to cause other people problems in their careers; you're jeopardizing these guys' careers because you want to believe you're still capable of doing something that you can't. That's what it is. So yes, there was a problem with us because I knew that Manny wasn't getting trained properly. He had problems with the way he was getting trained. I could see Manny getting tired. I could see Manny having problems, and Freddie wasn't doing anything to address it. He wasn't taking control and he wasn't taking charge. After 4 shitty fights, you'd think he'd figure it out and go, "Okay, there's clearly a problem here."
BT: You had been saying that for quite some time actually regarding Manny's training. I know prior to his last few fights, you'd always tell me, "As long as Manny trains the way I want him to train, like we used to train, we'll be okay."
AA: Listen, it's a disrespect to Marquez and his team because they did tremendous work and that wasn't luck. I mean, I've only been with Manny for 2 of the 4 fights; I'm not the boxing trainer, but he had 4 fights to teach Manny how to avoid a right hand and then he ends up getting knocked out by the same right hand he's been hitting him with all 4 fights. What the fuck? Listen, when the top trainer [Robert Garcia] and his father says that all that matters is my work, when you hear it from the best trainers in the business that I know, that's what matters; not what an 0-12 trainer says.
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