One new wrinkle in Saturday’s anticipated return bout between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado, and a recently developed storyline, is the news of the addition of strength and conditioning coach Angel “Memo” Heredia to the camp of Rios.
Heredia is most recently known for his work with Juan Manuel Marquez, transforming the veteran from a soft looking junior welterweight to the cut-to-shreds welterweight version that starched Manny Pacquiao abruptly last December. Prior to that, Heredia’s checkered past of helping athletes with performance enhancing drugs and then testifying against them made him a recognizable name.
Rios told RingTV.com after Thursday’s press conference that he talked to Heredia in December, before Pacquiao-Marquez IV.
“I approached him at Pacquiao-Marquez and told him how Marquez looked good, healthy,” said Rios. “I told him we need to work together, but we didn’t start working together until this rematch with Mike became official.”
When asked why he kept it quiet that the two were working together until the week of the fight, Rios got a bit perturbed.
“Big deal, who gives a f__k,” said a bothered Rios. “It’s not like I had a secret. We had a closed camp for the last fight, too. I train harder with a closed camp. They can drug test me anytime they want. People think because I can take shots, that I am on something. I got balls; I’m a man, that’s why I can take the punches.”
Rios’ trainer Robert Garcia was extremely happy when his fighter decided to begin working with Heredia.
“I’m glad Brandon accepted to work with someone,” said Garcia to RingTV.com after Thursday’s press conference.
“He’s never wanted to work outside of the two hours in the gym we work together. This is the only time I’ve seen Brandon doing the other things you need to do. We needed somebody like that who was gonna push him to get into better shape.”
When asked why they decided to withhold the information regarding Rios’ involvement with Heredia until fight week, Garcia just chalked it up to strategy.
“The only reason we kept it quiet was to have more of an advantage in the fight,” said Garcia. “This way, Alvarado might think Brandon is going to be in the same shape when really, he’s going to have a lot more than he did the last time.”
When asked to comment on the news of Heredia’s role in the camp of Rios, Alvarado didn’t seem bothered by the news.
“He’s gonna fight the same fight,” said Alvarado to RingTV.com prior to the press conference. “He might be stronger, but I’m going to be quicker. He’s going to walk in the whole time, and I’m more prepared for this fight.”
“I never paid attention to the way anyone else trained,” continued Alvarado. “It’s all gonna come out on the night of the fight.”
Garcia is an interesting person in the mix. His other top fighter, 122-pound champion Nonito Donaire, was previously working with the infamous Victor Conte, Heredia’s mortal enemy if you follow their back-and-forth on Twitter. Conte and Donaire parted ways, as announced by Gabriel Montoya of Maxboxing.com via Twitter, over what Garcia was told by a Donaire team member to be, “something silly.”
Photo / Naoki Fukuda
Mark Ortega is the boxing columnist for the Martinez News-Gazette and is a member of the Boxing Writers Assoc. of America and the RING Ratings Advisory Panel. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]as well as followed on Twitter @MarkEOrtega.