- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- It came as a surprise when pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. posted photos on social media recently of controversial strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza stretching him out as he was training for his rematch with Marcos Maidana on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Was Ariza, who was in Maidana's corner for the first fight in May, suddenly part of Mayweather's team?
Did Mayweather hire a guy who Maidana trainer Robert Garcia fired a few months ago from working with any of his fighters, including Maidana, Brandon Rios and brother Mikey Garcia? Ariza, of course, has also been fired by Freddie Roach, who had him working with his fighters as well, including the great Manny Pacquiao, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Mayweather, who has had some choice words for Ariza over the years as it related to his work with Pacquiao, was coy about their association in recent weeks.
"Alex Ariza, I think he's out in Las Vegas, I don't know, taking care of some personal stuff. So our gym is open to everyone," Mayweather said. "In the past I've spoke [negatively] about Alex Ariza, but I never knew him. He'd come by the gym, he'd watch me train, and he showed me some stretches before I ran and that's it. However he handles business with his other fighters is how he handles business."
When asked if Ariza was working for him in any sort of official capacity, Mayweather was coy again.
"I'm not enemies with Alex Ariza," Mayweather said. "We may just talk about boxing, we just talk about normal things. What Alex Ariza has said is, 'I've never seen a fighter in my life train as hard as you and work as hard as you. Now I see why you where you're at.' He said, 'I just wanted to come see for myself.' He basically said that, 'I thought that [Showtime's] All Access was just camera tricks. I didn't really know you worked that hard. ... Now I see why you are where you at in the sport of boxing.'
"He showed me stretches. Actually, [recently] after my run he showed me some other stretches that I can do that could help me."
When asked if Ariza would be part of his team during fight week or perhaps even in the corner, Mayweather was evasive yet again.
"I can't say who's going to be around me fight week. I really don't know," he said. "I can't really say. [Mayweather Promotions CEO] Leonard [Ellerbe] used to be around me a lot fight week but, I mean, he's doing different things now so he's not around me fight week. So we don't know who's going to be around, but fight week I'm not around nobody. I'm at home resting. That's where I should be.
"Alex came to the gym more than just on one occasion, but just because a guy comes to the boxing gym and watches me train or a guy goes to eat with us that doesn't mean he's my strength and conditioning coach. He happened to be a strength and conditioning coach and showed me some stretches so far."
Pressed again on the issue, Mayweather concluded the line of question with this: "The only thing I can say is that he's a strength and conditioning coach that showed me some stretches. Has he ever received a check from me? Absolutely not."