Tempers have gotten so high in Macau that it has brought the integrity of each camp to an all-time low. If you aren’t aware of what has happened by now, basically the footage from early Wednesday morning shows Freddie Roach approach Robert Garcia in regards to the time shared in a neutral gym in Macau. Apparently Garcia and Brandon Rios’ time in the gym is supposed to be from 9AM to 11AM, while Roach and Manny Pacquiao are scheduled for 11AM until they are finished (allegedly 4PM).
Roach tells Garcia that his time is up and when Garcia declines to accommodate Roach’s request, Roach responds by saying “unfucking believable, piece of shit,” directed towards Garcia, whose reasons for extending Brandon’s time in the gym were due to a mandatory interview with ESPN SportsCenter.
That is where all hell broke loose.
Garcia kept a very cool head, but the same can’t be said for his ridiculously childish camp. Alex Ariza, told Roach to “Get [expletive] out of here,” to which Roach responded “Throw me out, make me leave.” Then, Roach referred to one of Brandon Rios’ assistant trainers, Donald Leary, as a Mexican [explicative]. If things weren’t childish enough, Ariza then kicked Roach in the chest after Roach made a move in Ariza’s direction.
What might’ve been the most surprising factor in the melee was what didn’t happen, and that is Brandon Rios’ — a hothead by reputation – calm and non-confrontational demeanor.
Roach did start the name calling and his remarks were offensive, but that doesn’t excuse what Ariza did next, attacking Roach’s Parkinson’s disease by making fun of his stutter, using gay slurs in the mix.
You can blame Roach for starting the name calling, you can blame Ariza and Leary for taking it to an unnecessary level of ridiculousness, but it really isn’t the root of the altercation. The blame belongs to whoever the hell was responsible at Top Rank for keeping the training situation controlled. The lack of communication shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of the two camps days away from going to war and Top Rank should remain impartial.
If Top Rank knew that the Rios camp would be affected by his promotional duties and didn’t bother to justify or compensate for it then they alone share the blame. Furthermore, maybe they should reconsider their future with staging fights in exotic locations.
Still, there is plenty of blame to go around. Obviously Roach was the instigator, while both he and Garcia have valid arguments for their gym time — again, Top Rank’s responsibility — Roach didn’t have to blow up the way he did. As for the racial insensitivities, I never heard the Jewish slur Roach directed towards Elie Seckbach, but I’m not saying he didn’t, I just couldn’t hear it in any of the available audio.
As for the Mexican slur directed towards Donald Leary, that was much more audible and inappropriate. Roach was in the wrong, but to label him an absolute bigot or racist is a bit much in my opinion. It was fairly insensitive, but it wasn’t like Roach was channeling his inner George Zimmerman, verbally gunning down the Mexican community.
What Roach is guilty of more than anything, is having a tremendous ego and allowing his prima donna attitude to seep through and affect his better instincts. Roach sees himself as the alpha male trainer, reigning over the rest. So when he acts like an A-hole, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, it’s the Michael Jordan syndrome.
But the most disturbing facet about the entire incident were the actions committed by Alex Ariza, who both physically and verbally assaulted Roach by overstepping the boundaries permitted by his role, fulfilling the prophecy proceeded by his reputation. The argument was between Roach and Garcia, and Garcia didn’t need any help from Ariza or anyone else hell-bent on creating a volatile situation.
Ariza, no doubt still recovering from the very fresh wounds stemming from his Wild Card termination, inserted himself for no well-intentioned reason, other than his increasingly obvious need to be at the center of things. The only four relevant people on Saturday will be Pacquiao and Rios, first and foremost, and Roach and Garcia, everyone else is obsolete in the grand scheme of the fight itself.
If any integrity will be lost on Saturday, it will be Ariza in Rios’ corner. I think Ariza should be disciplined by somebody, anybody.
Robert Garcia is proving to be one of the best trainers around with one of the deepest stables around, he was getting along just fine without Ariza. Regardless of Saturday’s outcome and the debate between Garcia and Roach for world-class training supremacy, Garcia has already proven he is a world-class individual, cut from a different cloth of character compared to that of Roach. Garcia didn’t just display the kind of leadership capable of running a world-class gym, but he demonstrated true role model characteristics.
Garcia needs to cut the baggage in his gym, starting with Ariza because I think this is only the first of many mega-fights to come for the Garcia gym, at least with Robert at the helm. Ariza is a ticking time bomb. Garcia is so much better than the situation that occurred and its participants.
Roach may suffer from Parkinson’s, but Ariza is the disease in need of vaccination.