Wednesday, November 3, 2010
To get an idea of the frustration in the Manny Pacquiao training camp one would only have to watch the digression of Pacquiao strength and conditioning trainer Alex Ariza in the second installment of 24/7.
Three key moments in the installment color the distractions in the Pacquiao camp, which trainer Freddie Roach has called, “Probably our worst training camp ever.”
Near the beginning of the episode Ariza is surprised by the evidently spur-of-the-moment wedding and reception of Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz which threw off the momentum of the camp.
“I thought it was a joke,” Ariza said, trying poorly to cover up his irritation. “I didn’t know anything about it, you can’t keep a secret in this camp.”
That Koncz was the impetus for this break in camp was no doubt even less humorous to Ariza. Koncz’s previous training camp distractions at one time led to Ariza and Koncz trading blows.
The second moment in the Pacquiao camp that highlighted an break in the normal flow of a Pacquiao training camp was WBA light welterweight champion Amir Kahn brought in to bring Pacquiao’s speed up to acceptable levels.
In a montage of two sparring sessions Khan is continually beating Pacquiao to the punch and commanding the ring. Pacquiao is seen backed up and rocked by a few of Khan’s blows.
In between the sparring sessions the Pacquiao camp is moved from Baguio City, Philippines to Hollywood, California, and an interview with Ariza shows a man nonplussed by what he sees.
“Baguio reminded me of the Rocky movie where Sylvester Stallone is training in a hotel, media was all around and cameras and he was fighting Clubber Lang and went in there and got destroyed,” Ariza said.
The comparison to Rocky III is a fair one, the Pacquiao of 24/7 seems more concerned about what needs to be done outside the ring than in it and his distractions are a red flag to everyone but him.
In Rocky III when Rocky Balboa loses track of his ring life in favor of his fame and other obligations, Trainer Mickey Goldmill puts it into perspective for him.
“The worst thing that happened to you, that can happen to any fighter, you got civilized,” Goldmill tells Balboa.
But the world of Rocky Balboa is one of fiction and the world of Manny Pacquiao is very real and it will not be the stage hands of Mr. T stalking Pacquiao around the ring on November 13.
Close to the end of the episode Pacquiao again cuts camp in California to travel to Las Vegas on a political obligation. The Ariza at the beginning of the episode laughing the small distractions off is gone, with only 14 days till fight night, it is now a serious situation.
“He (Pacquiao) says to me it’s a quick trip,” Ariza said. “Fuck! a quick trip has been this whole camp.”
A week ago I derided the first episode of 24/7 as being a snooze fest or a wasted-air infomercial trying to sell a product that just is not there.
A good fight needs a good promoter, one that can find the duality in a fight and highlight those tangible and intangible aspects to build the hype.
HBO is a great promoter and they have found a rhythm in the second installment by focusing on the breaks in rhythm in the Pacquiao camp.
The dichotomy in this fight is broken between a man who might be losing his will to fight and a man has fighting as his only means to prove himself.
In this episode we were also treated with a focused Antonio Margarito, a driven trainer in Robert Garcia and what looks to be a hell of a test for Manny Pacquiao in two weeks.
“I want Freddie to give me my respect,” Garcia said.
“When your fame transcends punches, knockouts and title belts,” Liev Schreiber said in his voice over. “Things get more complicated.”