MACAU -- Tensions between the camps of Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios erupted into a physical altercation Wednesday morning at The Venetian Macao, site of Saturday night's clash between the fighters.
The problems began when Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach approached Rios trainer Robert Garcia in a gym area beneath the Venetian Theatre that the two camps are sharing during fight week. Rios is scheduled to work out in the area between 9 and 11 a.m. each day, with Pacquiao's workout slated for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Video of the incident shows Roach asking Garcia to leave and apparently calling him a "piece of s---." "Don't call me a piece of s---," Garcia countered. Alex Ariza, Rios' strength and conditioning coach, who previously worked for Roach and Pacquiao, shouted at Roach to leave, and Roach shouted back at Ariza to "make me." After some verbal back-and-forth, Roach stepped forward. Ariza kicked Roach in the stomach, and when one of Rios' team began shouting at Roach, Pacquiao's trainer called him a "Mexican m-----f-----," prompting a near-brawl that required the intervention of security.
According to Garcia, the conflict arose as a result of Rios staying late to appear on ESPN's "SportsCenter" during Pacquiao's scheduled gym time.
"So we say, OK, we're going to go 15, 20 minutes over time [at the gym]," Garcia told reporters afterward. "[Roach] could have waited. His fighter wasn't even here. He could have been wrapping his hands. I don't care. He just wanted to start a fight. He's in trouble. He's nervous."
"Our time is at 11 each day," Roach told ESPN's Bernardo Osuna. "I waited until five past 11 upstairs, and I came down, and Brandon was jumping rope. I waited until he had finished, and I went up to Robert Garcia and said, 'Our time is at 11.' Ariza started making fun of my Parkinson's, and I said, 'What's your problem?' and he kicked me and ran away."
Rios continued to work out in the background and was not involved in the altercation. Pacquiao was not present, and Roach told Osuna that he told his fighter not to come to the gym for another half-hour.
"He's going to be upset, but I'll put on the mitts and he'll hit me hard, and it'll be OK," Roach said.