Should the ugly action outside of the ring in Macau foreshadow this weekend’s Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios fight, the clash inside the ring will prove particularly savage.
Trainers for Pacquiao and Rios squared off in a boxing gym underneath the Venetian Theatre on Wednesday. The melee featured a kick to the chest, frequent four-letter words, ethnic incitement, and open ridicule of a combatant’s disability.
The fracas started after Rios’s team refused to vacate the gym after running over their 11 a.m. stop time. Exasperated, Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach called Robert Garcia “a piece of sh*t.” Tempers flared and expletives flew. Rios’s strength coach Alex Ariza ridiculed and then kicked an approaching Roach, who suffers from advanced Parkinson’s disease, in the chest. Later, he taunted the former fighter: “Get over here you stuttering prick.” Ariza continued to mock his impaired speech through impressions. Roach, in turn, called an unnamed member of Rios’s camp a “Mexican motherf*cker,” which escalated the chaos.
The Marquess of Queensbury frowned upon kicks; if he ever contemplated the derision of an opponent’s degenerative brain disease, he never codified a prohibition of it.
Roach seemed less concerned about the insult than the assault. The “son of a bitch kicked me like a girl,” an astounded Roach remarked. Garcia, a former champion boxer, reflected that the brawl revealed fear within Pacquiao’s trainer about the pending fight. “He’s in trouble,” Garcia explained at impromptu press conference. “Didn’t you guys just see how he reacted? He’s in trouble. He’s nervous.”
Pac Man enters the match coming off a controversial decision loss to undefeated Timothy Bradley and a highlight-reel knockout at the hands of nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez. So, the Asian clash could prove to be the thirty-four-year-old Filipino’s last should the underdog embarrass him.
Though the donnybrook may intensify this weekend’s action, it speaks more about the past than the future. Roach’s assailant Ariza once worked for him as Pacquiao’s strength coach. And in 2010, Rios, along with then Pacquiao opponent Antonio Margarito, was caught on camera performing crude impersonations of Roach. The Garcia-trained fighters mimicked the facial distortions and shaking wrought by his disability.
Roach commented in the aftermath of that controversy, “I do hate those guys.”
Daniel J. Flynn is the author of The War on Football: Saving America’s Game (Regnery, 2013).
photo credit: Top Rank