MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxing champion Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao denied reports that his strength and conditioning trainer, Alex Ariza, has left Team Pacquiao.
Pacquiao told ABS-CBN News correspondent Jen Nievera that there is no truth to the rumors that Ariza has left the team.
According to Pacquiao's co-trainer Buboy Fernandez, Ariza left Baguio City at 6:30 a.m. last Saturday. Fernandez could not say the reason for Ariza's departure.
But Pacquiao said that Ariza asked for his permission before leaving the Baguio training camp.
"Nagpaalam naman sa akin," Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao's brother, Bobby, said Ariza left to take care of some of his other clients, including Mexican middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Ariza will not be returning to the Philippines, but he will still help Pacquiao in his preparation for his June 9 bout against Timothy Bradley Jr.
"Doon na s'ya maghihintay sa Wild Card," Pacquiao said, referring to trainer Freddie Roach’s gym in Hollowood, California.
Ariza confirmed with Joaquin Henson of The Philippine Star that he left Pacquiao’s training camp to help Chavez Jr. prepare for his title defense against Andy Lee.
"I spoke with Manny and (British boxer) Amir (Khan) about Julio last Friday night and got their okay to leave," Ariza said. "Manny's the most understandable athlete in the world. When I asked his permission, he immediately told me, no problem, do what I had to do."
"He gave me his blessing. I'll be waiting for Manny when he gets to Los Angeles in two weeks," he added.
Aside from Pacquiao, Ariza is also training Khan, who will battle Lamont Peterson in a rematch on May 19, and Chavez Jr., who will defend his WBC middleweight title against Lee on June 16. -- With a report from Jen Nievera, ABS-CBN News Baguio City