Called 'A Fraud' By Miguel Diaz, Alex Ariza Responds, 'I Don't Cheat'
Sometime during the aftermath of Saturday night's HBO televised, unanimous decision by WBA junior welterweight (140 pounds) champ Amir Khan over WBA interim titlist Marcos Rene Maidana, Khan's strength coach, Alex Ariza, and Maidana's trainer, Miguel Diaz, engaged in a heated, verbal brawl in the ring.
In victory, Khan rose to 24-1, with 17 knockouts, dropping Maidana (29-2, 27 KOs) with a pair of first-round body shots, and, later, surviving a near-knockout in the 10th round of their Golden Boy Promotions-sponsored clash at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
But after their literal fisticuffs, Ariza, Khan's assistant trainer to Freddie Roach, told Elie Seckbach of FanHouse that Diaz came across the ring and launched into a verbal assault.
"[Diaz] starts coming over and calling me a fraud and a cheat and stuff like that. I don't know where it came from. So I just said, 'Hey, whatever, my fighter won, yours didn't.' Sometimes, you just don't know, you know?" said Ariza.
"It's kind of disappointing because you think, 'This is a sport, and it has nothing really to do with that,'" said Ariza. "But, you know, Miguel is ... sometimes when they get older, and you can see that you're on your way out. This is his last chance to make something. But to call me a fraud, you know, I don't cheat. Everybody knows that."
But the 72-year-old Diaz claims that Ariza was the first to initiate the negative exchange, this, after Diaz had approached the Khan corner with honorable intentions.
"Alex Ariza is the one who started the whole thing. I went to congratulate Freddie Roach, and from the back of everybody else, and, in front of Freddie, there were a lot of people. And Alex sticks his head out from out of everyone else and says, 'Your fighter is a piece of s**t,'" said Diaz.
"That's exactly what Alex Ariza told me," said Diaz. "And I said, 'You are a f**king fraud that's what you are.' But Alex is the one who started everything with me."
Besides Khan, Ariza and Roach also work with eight-time titlist Manny Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 knockouts), owner of the WBO welterweight (147 pounds) and WBC junior middleweight (154 pounds) belts as well as a winning streak of 13 consecutive fights that includes eight knockouts.
A four-time Trainer of the Year, the 50-year-old Roach also handles junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (28-0, 17 KOs) and junior middleweight and middleweight (160 pounds) prospect Julio Cesar Chavez (40-0-1, 30 KOs) out of his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif.
In December of last year, Pacquiao filed a lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages for defamation of character against Floyd Mayweather Jr. that also names Floyd Mayweather Sr., his uncle and trainer, Roger Mayweather, as well as Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya, CEO and president, respectively, of Golden Boy Promotions, which handled Mayweather's part of the negotiations for a potential March 13 fight between the two.
"[The lawsuit is] based on their [defendant's] false and defamatory statements about Manny Pacquiao," said Pacquiao's attorney, Dan Petrocelli, at the time. "Specifically their publicly stating that Pacquiao was taking steroids or other illegal drugs to enhance his performance -- knowing that there is absolutely no basis for any such assertions."
Not long after Pacquiao's filing, the negotiations for a bout with Mayweather collapsed over an impasse involving drug testing protocol for both fighters.
The sting and resulting stigma of the accusations apparently still resonates with Ariza, who believes that Diaz was unfairly targeting him.
"I train my fighters, and I'm legitimate. I don't give them anything. Anything illegal," said Ariza, who was still fuming long after the fight's conclusion. "If that makes him [Diaz] feel better, and that's his way, I just didn't think that it was an appropriate place to do it after a fight, but, it is what it is."
But Diaz said that he was not accusing Ariza of doing anything illegal.
"Maybe it's in his subconcious or something like that. But at no time did I ever say that he cheats," said Diaz. "I didn't say that he cheats, I said that he's a fraud if he thinks that Manny Pacquiao is what he is because he had anything to do with why Pacquiao is what he is. Pacquiao and Freddie Roach are of everything, with or without Ariza."
During the 10th round, where Maidana's blistering attack nearly had Khan out on his feet, Diaz felt that referee Joe Cortez unfairly favored and protected the champion.
Ariza, however, said that Diaz simply mishandled the situation, failing to guide and direct Maidana through an effective strategy.
"Unfortunatley, sometimes, when a trainer hasn't had the trainer's cap on before, they get a little excited," said Ariza. "Miguel Diaz, just because you throw a towel over your shoulder, it doesn't make you a trainer."
But Diaz has trained former titlists Luis Ramon "Yori Boy" Campas, Stevie Johnston, Cesar Soto, Johnny Tapia, and, briefly, Diego Corrales, among others.
Diaz also has served as a cut man for fighters such as Pacquiao, Mayweather., Miguel Cotto, Erik Morales, Kelly Pavlik, Israel Vazquez, Hasim Rahman, James Toney, Mike McCallum, Jose Luis Castillo, Iran Barkley, Eric Morel, Williams Joppy, Joshua Clottey, Tony Tubbs, and, Christy Martin.
"Unfortunately, Alex Ariza is not a boxing guy. He is one of those guys who talks more about who he is than they really are," said Diaz.
"Like, I don't go around calling writers and seeking publicity. I don't need this sort of publicity," said Diaz. "Alex Ariza needs publicity. I mean, he talks about himself like he's the greatest thing in the world, and he simply is not."