MANILA, Philippines – Manny Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza doesn’t think the eight-division champion’s recent tax issues will be a distraction as they prepare to begin training camp for their June 9 clash with unbeaten challenger Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas.
“Manny is used to distractions and stuff like that,” said Ariza at a Metro Manila gym, following a gym session with former WBA/IBF junior welterweight champion Amir Khan, who is preparing for a rematch with Lamont Peterson on May 19 to avenge his most recent defeat.
Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 knockouts), who begins camp in the high elevation region of Baguio, Philippines on April 16, was charged with contempt last month after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) alleged that he twice failed to submit documents related to his income. Pacquiao has not been charged with tax evasion.
At a press conference last month addressing the charges, the Sarangani congressman Pacquiao remarked, “I cannot train hard with this excess baggage,” adding “I shall fight this case to the finish, until the last and final round.”
Veteran Filipino boxing journalist Nick Giongco reported yesterday that Pacquiao began training on Tuesday in his hometown of General Santos City, over 1,000 kilometers away from Manila. Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach is expected to arrive in Manila on Wednesday morning Filipino time to join Khan.
“(Pacquiao) is just tying up some loose ends, he wants to get everything out of the way as far as whatever is going on here in the Philippines business-wise,” said Ariza. “He doesn’t want to be bouncing back and forth. As soon as he gets that settled, he’s going to get right into it. We still got a lot of time.”
Ariza said he is excited by Pacquiao’s recent devotion to religion, adding that the expulsion of vices from his life will improve his focus on training and conditioning.
“He’s got his newfound faith and the way he’s approached religion, he’s left a lot of the other stuff behind,” said Ariza. “I always think that’s a good thing. Hopefully that will give him more time with me and we can get back to working on some of the old workouts we used to do.”
Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs) of Palm Springs, Calif. recently tweeted that he officially began training camp on Monday. Bradley, 28, inked a deal with Pacquiao’s promoter Top Rank Inc. last year and holds the WBO light welterweight title. His biggest victories include wins over former titleholders Devon Alexander, Nate Campbell and Kendall Holt.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper in New York City. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel. He can be reached at [email protected]. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.