MANILA — Two days after setting foot again in Los Angeles, World Boxing Organization welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao braced for the final leg of his preparations Monday for his title fight with undefeated American Timothy Bradley next month.
But unless former strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza is rehired, the eight-division champion will have no one to guide him in this important aspect of his preparedness program, at least in the initial stage of training.
This developed after the young Filipino trainer Marvin Somodio, who took over Ariza’s job after the latter abandoned Pacquiao’s training camp in Baguio City three weeks ago, was denied a visa by the United States embassy in Manila.
Somodio appeared at the U.S. embassy on Monday for an interview.
The presence of Somodio in Pacquiao’s training camp is considered crucial as he seems to have found solution for the leg cramps that has long been bothering the pound-for-pound king in his last two fights against Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez, a problem Ariza failed to address.
Somodio, using a similar trigger point treatment, succeeded in easing the shoulder pains Pacquiao complained about since the start of the Baguio camp.
A member of Pacquiao’s staff, Ryan Ursua, said he has informed the Sarangani congressman’s staff in Los Angeles, adding everything will be done to address the problem.
“We applied for a tourist visa for Marvin instead of a working visa kasi kailangang-kailangan siyang makasunod agad sa L.A. because he is needed there immediately because of his job,” Ursua told this writer.
“The plan was to apply for a working visa once he is in L.A. Matagal kasi ang proseso pagkuha ng working visa kaya naisipan na tourist entry muna ang i-apply,” he explained.
“Sabi noong consul na nag-interview sa akin, mali daw ang application ko. Dapat daw nga working visa and ini-apply ko at hindi tourist visa,” the 28-year-old Somodio, a three-year understudy of chief trainer Freddie Roach, said.
Ariza, who handled the Filipino idol’s conditioning preparations during the past four years, left the Baguio training camp purportedly to help world junior-middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez in a scheduled coming fight and was believed to have severed his relation with Team Pacquiao.
Pacquiao though, in an interview immediately after Ariza left, said the Columbian-born trainer’s fate will be known after they shall have talked when they meet in Los Angeles.