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Alex Ariza dedicates "FIREPOWER" to fallen LA County Firefighter

Las Vegas, Nevada -- When Alex Ariza walks alongside Manny Pacquiao into the firestorm at the MGM Grand this Saturday, Nov. 14, he will carry LA County Fire Department #16 foreman Arnie Quinones' spirit along with the team.

Arnie, whose skills and bravery helped save 72 other fellow firefighters, will always remind Alex the true meaning of friendship.

"If it wasn't for Arnie's bravery and skills creating that forest clearing casualties could have been worse in the last firefight at the Los Angeles Hills. He gave himself up for a higher purpose. I'll carry his name to the ring with me."

Alex Ariza dedicates this "FIRESTORM" to all firefighters.
Here's Alex Ariza, B.Sc. (Exercise and Nutritional Sciences).

Ariza's Training Approach.

ERRT: Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao actually lost his first title due to dehydration and cramming. Legend has it that he drank quite a bit of sports beverage when his manager went amiss. He had to run to lose 2-3 pounds in an hour. Your thoughts?

AA: I actually heard that story from Manny himself. We were watching old fight tapes and he admitted he lost to the Thai due to his carelessness.

ERRT: Does he still try to cut liquids to try to make weight or have you pretty much straightened him out?

AA: I wouldn't say straightened him out. You know, you try to just explain it to him and Manny is a pretty intelligent guy. It's indicative of his performance now that he has proper nutrition and being more consistent with it. He feels it with his energy and overall performance.

ERRT: It is evident how Manny Pacquiao benefitted from your training philosophy particularly plyometrics. Can you break it down for us?

AA: We've been doing plyometrics since the Dela Hoya fight. It's just now that people are finding out about it. We run a gambit of things---plyometrics, isometrics and ballistics training system. The goal is to maintain Manny's speed and quickness as he builds functional muscles going up in weight. It's important he stays the same, feels the same and have him react as he gains mass.

More in depth, the system we implemented is called HIIT system (high-intensity interval training) was intended to maximize recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers.

As Manny gained more mass, we focused on maintaining his explosiveness. My background in exercise and nutritional sciences complemented with UCLA's Teri Tom and San Diego State's Andrea Macias covered all the bases, so to speak, from caloric intake to fluid balance and metabolic monitoring.

ERRT: When did you start working with Manny?

AA: We began training together during the second Marquez fight. Manny had a slight shoulder separation and Freddie asked me if I could work with him. Having background in rehabilitation in Sacramento and considering my work with the late Diego Corrales (I think 1998-99), I felt I could help. One night, Manny expressed his concerns like chronic shin splints and shoulder tenderness. Manny felt a little worried in the later rounds of the Barrera II fight that he didn't have the 'pop' he once had.

I started asking him if we could implement new things---more on the scientific approach.

ERRT: So what's the key to improving strength and endurance? A lot of amateur and professional athletes still try to make weight by cutting water. Don't you think that age-old technique is counterproductive if not dangerous?

AA: I do think cutting water is dangerous. Here's the thing, when you're making weight by cutting water, the problem is you cannot replenish trace minerals and important electrolytes during that 24 hour period by losing lots of valuable fluids in a short amount of time. Sweating excretes bloodstream sodium, potassium etc. and they can reach dangerously low levels drying out like that. It's paramount athletes drink water or sports drinks when training. Proper nutrition is also key. As Manny said when we were in Baguio, "Treat your body like a car. Put proper fuel, oil and coolant so the engine runs smoothly."

It doesn't hurt to have a V-8 engine, as well. (LOL).

Miguel Cotto and Firepower

ERRT: How do you think Manny would fare against Miguel Cotto's vaunted left hook?

AA: I don't think Manny is really focused on avoiding the left hook. Our sparring partners were bigger, stronger and quicker, perhaps more athletic than Cotto. Manny isn't going to see anything in this fight that we haven't already seen, i.e. guys with left and right hooks, in the last five weeks of sparring. We had Shawn Porter(10W-0L,, 0D, 8KO), Jose Luis Castillo (60-9-1, 52KO), Urbano Antillon (26-1-1, 19KO), Raymundo Beltran (22-4-2, 14KO), Rashad Halloway (11-1-2, 5KO) and, of course, Freddie with the mitts. We're not that concerned over a left hook. We've logged more than 146 sparring rounds. We're ready and I don't think we're worried about anything.

ERRT: How do you see the fight with Miguel Cotto ending?

AA: Manny by knockout in less than five rounds.

Floyd "Pretty Money Boy" Mayweather, Jr.

ERRT: I think Floyd is one of the better conditioned athletes-- period. Do you think he'll beat Manny?

AA: I don't think Floyd Mayweather, Jr. can hold a candle to Manny Pacquiao's conditioning and overall ability. We had Manny Pacquiao's sparring partner, two-time opponent of Floyd's, Jose Luis Castillo blatantly saying Manny is way faster and stronger than Mayweather. I don't think Floyd is that great conditioned an athlete. I can look phenomenal against a guy that's 30 pounds lighter. So what. He beat up on a little guy who went up in weight 4 classes. That don't show me nothin'.

Family Life and Friendship

ERRT: Emblazoned on your shirt is #16 LA County Fire Department. Can you tell me about your best friend Ozzie's brother Arnie whom you grew up with?

AA: Arnie Quinones was a childhood friend. He lost his life during the last LA wildfire August 30, 2009. This fight is for Arnie and his family. His work has recently been celebrated this summer during an LA Dodgers game. Unfortunately, you know, we were doing our separate things--me with boxing and him firefighting---and sometimes you lose contact.

I've learned that you can't take friendships for granted.
My mother called me up when I was in the Philippines and told me that we have lost Arnie during the LA fires this summer. It is a tough loss.

ERRT: You sound like you have a solid upbringing. Did you grow up here in the USA?

AA: I was born in Bogota, Colombia. Our family migrated to the US East Coast when I was 13 years old. We ended up settling in California where I finished my college degree.
Let me tell you though, I want to thank my support system especially my mom.

She raised me by herself and did everything and put me through school. She has always supported me in my dream to be in this sport. She was always there for me.

Ozzie Quinones (brother of Arnie Quinones): Manny Pacquiao has a great conditioning coach and true friend in Alex. Alex has got him in tip top shape. The fight will speak volumes. Manny is going to do fine against Miguel Cotto. With Alex, Freddie, Nonoy and Buboy in the corner the Filipino fight fans have nothing to worry about.

ERRT: What with all the attention with Manny Pacquiao and your camp, how does Alex Ariza wind down? Any hobbies? (Besides doing plyometrics on someone's face like in Baguio?)

AA: (LOL). Good question. I wish I had a simple answer. We've been so busy with the absolute rocking career of Manny. The Wild Card has gotten so busy and Freddie being inundated with new fighters. I just try to help him as much as I can. And I like to be as much a part of it as well. I'm learning 'cause you can never learn everything about this business. You have to be always open to new things that are coming out working with new fighters. Learning from Manny's work ethic is something I apply teaching younger guys coming up.

ERRT: You mean you didn't pick up singing, billiards and darts lately?

AA: Unfortunately I'm a terrible singer, so no. Pool I play. Darts I tried a little bit, but when Manny can beat me with his opposite hand it's my cue not to do that.

ERRT: Lastly, can you share your memories of your trip to the Philippines? Oh yes, I was instructed by avid Pinay (Filipina) boxing fans to inquire if you were eligible.

AA: I am single. I don't have any kids or anything like that. I think it'd be cool to one day be with my future family and be a could father and say I worked with THE best fighter that walked the planet. On the flip side, if I can just work with Freddie----that would be fine as well.

I told Freddie if he's ready to retire and train fighters for fun in the Philippines that I'm going with him. As for the Manila/Baguio trip it was amazing. I can't wait to get back perhaps for Manny's birthday. It will all depend on the big boss-- Freddie.

The Filipino people were so warm and welcoming. They treated us like family. I can't say enough about them.

I hope we can make the Filipino boxing fans proud.

Top Photo: Alex Ariza (R) with Ozzie Quinones (Arnie's brother) at the Wildcard Gym.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel Rivera, RRT.

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