The night of June 5th of this year belonged to Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto as he picked apart Belarus’ Yuri Foreman on his way towards a ninth round stoppage. Cotto netted the WBA Jr. Middleweight crown with his rise in weight and despite Foreman suffering a leg injury in the seventh round it was still Cotto’s poised attack that defined the night. Coming off of a heart wrenching knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao seven months prior, Cotto showed the boxing world that his story is far from finished.
With a December 4th battle with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. now in the works the spotlight is again getting ready to set on the Caugus fighter. One man who has gotten to know Chavez extremely well is his new strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, who has been working with the 24-year old ever since his relocation to Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in May. When assessing the matchup Ariza has all the reason in the world to be believe that his side will be victorious.
“I think it’s a really good fight,” Ariza stated. “The thing is that Freddie already knows how to beat Cotto. It’s a really good fight, especially for a guy like Chavez who is young and likes to challenge himself. I think having an eight week camp instead of four weeks, which is what we had to get ready for [John] Duddy, is going to be a big difference. I think the main thing will be that Freddie knows how to beat Cotto and Chavez is going to be too big and too strong.”
Before hooking up with Roach there was a definite amount of criticism directed towards Chavez’ way, as the Sinaloa, Mexico fighter’s skills and commitment were questioned by various boxing insiders. Upon meeting him for the first time Ariza saw that those assumptions were well off base.
“He’s really quiet, that was the first thing,” Ariza stated when asked for his first thoughts on the young fighter. “He was nothing like everybody had painted him to be, as if he was lazy, didn’t have any work ethic. He didn’t have any of those things. What stood out for me was his work ethic. Everybody knows that I like to start everything early at 5 AM and the first day he got up he took that first step with Vanes [Martirosyan] and then the next morning he was up at 5 in the morning waiting for us. When he gets motivated he will do something 100%.”
Chavez will need every ounce of that motivation in training for Cotto as he will be finding himself sparring with Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao in this particular camp. Pacquiao has a November 13th clash with Antonio Margarito lined up and knowing fully well that he needed a tall and rangy fighter to help his charge prepare for the Tijuana brawler, Freddie Roach looked to Chavez. Ariza has definite anticipation towards their upcoming sparring sessions and believes that Chavez will find a way to step his game up.
“I think so,” Ariza said. “I think when Chavez wants to be the aggressor and come forward he can be very busy. He can emulate that same kind of style that Margarito has. It’s going to be interesting and I think it will be different. Manny is such an exceptional fighter with movement and speed and I think it will be more unusual for Chavez to see something like that than it would for Manny.”
The first potion of Pacquiao’s training camp will take place in Manila in his native Philippines. Traveling for camp is nothing new to Ariza, as the Wild Card crew spent much time in Baguio City for the Cotto bout last year, and he fully recognizes everything that must be done on his end towards making things run smoothly.
“It’s business as usual,” Ariza stated of traveling overseas. “I have a job to do. I don’t have same the same type of obstacles that Freddie has as far as sparring partners and those kind of things and having to sit there and analyze a fight. I have a track, I have a pool and I have all the things I need for strength and conditioning. That’s my job which is to get that part done.”
Ariza went on to state that he talks to Freddie Roach on a daily basis and that their working relationship is built upon open communication. The team will have to be clicking on all cylinders in preparation for Margarito because despite all the criticism that has come with his selection of an opponent Ariza still sees the danger in the contest.
“Yeah of course. I think anybody who has watched Margarito over the years will think that. Of course everything now is more suspect because of whether his gloves were loaded in the past but Margarito is a big, strong guy who comes forward and he can be dangerous at any time. Once again it’s always preparing Manny for a David and Goliath fight. You need a bigger, stronger, and faster Manny to deal with a guy like that. And that’s another thing with us, we don’t take anybody lightly. We take everybody seriously and prepare for them as if it’s going to be the toughest fight we ever had.”
Alex Ariza feels Mayweather never wanted to fight Pacquiao
“I’m disappointed like everybody else. I’m not surprised for sure. I’ve been saying it forever that Floyd just didn’t want to face Manny. I’m sure Michael Koncz and Bob will figure out what the next move is. We’ll be ready for whatever is… (Click for more)
Images of the week
Click on the collage for an inside look at Floyd Mayweather’s personal gym in Las Vegas, Nevada…
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected]