"Everything is going really well. Today will be another 8 rounds of sparring, but all in all, everything's been going well. Manny's staying focused even though Freddie's not here and we haven't really skipped a beat...Usually when we start that part of the conditioning program, he starts to slow down a little bit in sparring, but really, like I said, he hasn't skipped a beat," stated strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, who gave us an update on how training's been going for Manny Pacquiao this week while world-class trainer Freddie Roach is away in England. You don't want to miss what he had to say as Ariza discusses Manny's sparring, his physical conditioning thus far, and much more. Check it out!
BT: How's everything going in Freddie's absence?
AA: Everything is going really well. Today will be another 8 rounds of sparring, but all in all, everything's been going well. Manny's staying focused even though Freddie's not here and we haven't really skipped a beat.
BT: With Freddie being gone, I know you were wanting to focus a little more on stuff outside of the ring, like his conditioning and his physique, but it sounds like he's still looking pretty phenomenal inside the ring as well.
AA: Yeah, he's looking really sharp. Usually when we start that part of the conditioning program, he starts to slow down a little bit in sparring, but really, like I said, he hasn't skipped a beat.
BT: I saw some reports out there saying Manny dropped Shawn Porter in sparring. Is there any truth to that?
AA: I don't know who wrote that or who said it, to be honest with you. I can tell you right now that nobody has been knocked down. I'm sure that people have been hurt and rocked and stuff like that, but as far getting knocked down, it hasn't happened.
BT: Out of all the guys that Manny has been working with, who do you think has been giving him the best look as far as imitating Mosley is concerned.
AA: Well, if they're going to look like Mosley, of course it's going to be Karim Mayfield. They have very similar styles and Mayfield has a big right hand, but Porter's been with Manny for a while now and I think he's, right now, giving us the best work because he's familiar with him. And he's improved a lot over the last year as well.
BT: What kind of conditioning stuff are you working on this week? Are you trying to beef up his weight a little bit more or are you focusing more on his speed and endurance?
AA: Like I said, I thought it was a good opportunity for us at this time, since Freddie's gone and the intensity of the boxing wasn't going to be as hard, it would be a good time to try and put on that extra weight, fill in his body and stuff like that, so we got back to the plyometrics and isometrics for this week and next week before we start getting to more of the speed work.
BT: When you're trying to put a little more size on an athlete like Manny, what's the difference between doing something like plyometrics versus lifting weights?
AA: Well, when you're lifting weights, you know, conventional weightlifting is for building muscle, but unfortunately, that muscle that you build isn't functional, so when we do plyos and stuff like that for Manny, we'll focus on a lot of functional movements that are going to be more relevant to boxing; more explosive, quick movement, power, things like that, so it's functional weight that we're putting on as opposed to aesthetically building muscle.
BT: That might be a good topic for your blog because there's a big difference between bulking up and building functional muscle.
AA: Right. The aesthetic stuff, you know, looking good...even though a guy looks good and he looks great, it doesn't mean he's conditioned. Anybody can look aesthetically great, but it just appears that way. Underneath is where the truth lies.
BT: I've been meaning to ask you, I always see pictures of you floating around out there where you're standing off to the side next to a guy and kind of pushing on his shoulder in both directions. What exactly are you doing there?
AA: It's usually when we warm up the shoulders. We're just doing some internal warm-ups for his stabilizing muscles. Manny was having very chronic shoulder problems early in his career, so I like to do a series of warm-ups and things like that to get the shoulder and the joints warmed up before we start doing anything. Sometimes a lot of fighters have a tendency to hunch, you know, they roll their shoulders forward and a lot of the stabilizing muscles become weakened in the back, or one is overcompensating for the other, so I just try to target a lot of the other muscles, get them warmed up, get them functioning and get them involved.
BT: You're working with both Manny and Chavez Jr. right now, right?
AA: Yes I am.
BT: Are they working out at the same time with you, or do you split the day up?
AA: You know, Manny is way ahead of Jr. right now. He's 5 weeks into it and this is Jr.'s third day. As far as the running and stuff, they can keep up with each other, but some of the other stuff, I get him [Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.] away from it. Like Jr.'s swimming more. He's a bigger guy, you know, and we gotta burn more calories and things like that, so the intensity is a lot different for Jr.
BT: Well I just wanted to check in with you real quick to see how thing were going, so I won't hold you up. Is there anything else you want to get out there before I let you go.
AA: Don't forget to check out my blog if you're interested in diet, nutrition and getting in shape. I've got some great information and tips on there that everybody can use; not just athletes. Check it out at MPBoxing.com.
CLICK HERE TO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH ALEX ARIZA AT HIS OFFICIAL BLOG ON MPBOXING.COM
[ Follow Ben Thompson on Twitter @fighthype ]