A verbal and physical altercation involving Manny Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach and members of Brandon Rios’ camp broke out Wednesday at the Macau gym where both fighters are training for their WBO welterweight title this weekend.
It was an ugly incident. Roach appeared to be kicked in the upper body by Alex Ariza, a former member of Pacquiao’s team who now works for Rios, and mocked for his slurred speech caused by Parkinson’s disease.
Roach was accused by members of Rios’ camp of using racist and anti-Jewish slurs during the incident, which started when Roach approached Rios trainer, Robert Garcia, and said the team had gone past its scheduled training time.
Roach initially wanted security to call the police so he could press assault charges against Ariza, but Bob Arum, chief executive of Top Rank, which promotes both boxers, talked him out of it.
“Who knows what the hell happens in Macau if you press charges. Everybody could get arrested. We don’t know anything about the legal system,” Arum told the Associated Press, adding he was “pretty disgusted” by the incident.
“That kind of publicity is not good for the sport. It was nothing to do with the fighters. It had all to do with a grudge that Ariza has with Freddie, who fired him from Pacquiao’s corner.
“Garcia and Rios are good friends of mine and they listened to reason, and I’ve told them to tone everything down and they will. But Ariza sometimes gets out of control, and that’s really the problem. And usually when these types of fights occur, it’s usually someone who is tangential to the main guys who starts it.”
Pacquiao indirectly addressed the issue later in the day.
“Let everything finish in the ring,” Pacquiao said during a promotional media appearance later Wednesday. “No trash talk before the fight because it’s not a good example to all the people. If anyone has a grudge against someone, forgive them as God forgives. It’s not personal. It’s our job, entertaining people.”
The entire incident was caught on video (warning: extremely graphic language).
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.