(Warning: Video contains strong language)
If anyone thought the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios fight might be dull or not worth its pay-per-view price tag, think again. The intensity and bad blood for this bout just got ratcheted up tenfold, as the trainers and coaches for the two boxers nearly came to blows five days before the fight.
The dispute related to training times in the Macau gym the fighters are sharing. Under a prior agreement, Rios was permitted to use the facility from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., while Pacquiao was to start his training after 11 a.m.
However, both fighters today conducted television interviews with ESPN, causing Rios to start his training session later than normal. As a result, his training went beyond the 11 a.m. deadline, prompting Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, to confront Rios' trainer, Robert Garcia.
Words were exchanged, and then things became very heated when Roach approached Rios' strength coach, Alex Ariza. Ariza subsequently kicked Roach in the chest, and Roach called for security to intervene.
Both sides then continued to shout insults back and forth, with Ariza mocking Roach's Parkinson's disease, and Roach allegedly insulting the Mexican heritage of one member of Rios' team.
To make matters even more chaotic, as Roach was demanding that police arrest Ariza, a reporter at the scene also began barking at Roach for allegedly insulting his Jewish heritage.
Prior to this incident, Roach, Garcia, Ariza, and Rios have had their problems with one another.
Garcia and Roach have a civil, but natural rivalry, as both men are two of the sport's premiere trainers who happen to have their gyms in the Southern California area. As such, bragging rights are always on the line when two of their fighters clash.
Rios was caught mocking Roach's disease on camera in the past, although Roach indicated to The Daily Sports Herald at the fight's Los Angeles press conference that he held no grudge, and that he found Rios to be a jokester with a sense of humor.
The Ariza-Roach feud appears to be more serious. Ariza formerly was Pacquiao's strength coach, but had a falling out with Pacquiao's camp, causing him to cut off his ties with Roach's Wild Card Gym. To make matters worse, he is now assisting Rios in an effort to beat Pacquiao. From the kick to the insults, it's clear there is no love lost between Roach and Ariza.
The ultimate question now becomes what effect will this incident have on the fighters? Will Pacquiao, out of anger, abandon his boxing gameplan and instead try to brawl with Rios? Will Rios lose his cool, get reckless, and fail to protect himself?
At least one thing is certain for boxing fans, not only should they watch the fight, but they should also check out the weigh-in, the press conference, the pre-fight hand wrap observations, and any other function related to this unpredictable feud.
If the determination of the two fighters is anything close to the emotional intensity of their trainers and coaches, then we might be in for a classic this Saturday night.
By Mike Elliott
Editor of The Daily Sports Herald
Video courtesy of Radio Rahim