On Saturday night, Manny Pacquiao fights Brandon Rios on HBO pay-per-view in Macau, China. To accommodate the U.S. television audience, they will fight close to noon, local time on Sunday morning. Nearly the entire third and final episode of "24/7" took place in Macau.
And the highlight - or perhaps lowlight - was the confrontation between Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach and his former strength coach Alex Ariza at the training center inside The Venetian Resort and Hotel.
Here are some thoughts on the episode:
Best spoken line, Manny Pacquiao: "It's not the first time I have fought early in the morning. It's part of boxing."
Best spoken line, Brandon Rios. "If you are a fighter, you don't care where you fight at or what time you fight at . . . As long as we fight, as long I have an opponent in front of me, that's all that matters to me."
Best spoken line, Freddie Roach: "No one ever fights at the time they train. When the bell rings, the fight begins. I don't give a damn what time it is."
Best spoken line, Roach, part 2: "Tough guys don't win fights, good fighters win fights... Everything he does we do better. He's fat and he's trying to make weight because he's lazy. Lazy people don't beat Manny Pacquiao."
Training days: Pacquiao's 12-round sparring session.
Best supporting cast: China's up-and-coming boxing star, Zou Shiming.
Best written line: The closing essay - For all the pomp and pagentry, splendor and spectacle, boxing is, at its heart, about conflict. And along with requisite ambition and aspiration, all who come to the sport are comfortable living with that conflict and its consequences. No matter how at peace they might seem with themselves, no matter how much they might enjoy themselves along the way, never forget that violence is their most effective method of communication.
* Nice look at the Pacquiao family inside their home. The first time, I believe, that "24/7" has done that.
* Great shots of Rios and his camp on the plane to China. He flew roughly 17 hours from Los Angeles. Pacquiao flew three hours from the Philippines.
* Nice sequence of Rios and the young Chinese boxers mugging for the camera.
* "The kid from Garden City is most certainly not in Kansas any more." Well done, Aaron Cohen.
A final thought on the bad blood between the two camps. It started in 2010 when Antonio Margarito and Rios mocked Roach's halted movements because of Parkinson's disease. It was a classless gesture. The rivalry between Roach and Robert Garcia - two of the top trainers in boxing - was a healthy one that was forged on competition. It has since turned personal, with each side repeatedly insulting the other. It's hard to imagine legends such as Angelo Dundee, Eddie Futch and Gil Clancy behaving in such a manner.
When Ariza was fired from Pacquiao's camp and then hired by Rios, it made a bad situation worse. On Wednesday of fight week, Rios' morning workout ran long. Roach arrived at the training center and demanded they leave. Garcia said that media obligations caused them to run late, which seemed like a valid reason. He said he wasn't leaving.
Roach escalated the situation by cursing at Garcia and making derogatory remarks about his Mexican heritage. That's when Ariza entered the argument. Roach and Ariza verbally taunted one another and when Roach stepped in Ariza's direction, the strength coach kicked Roach squarely in the chest. The two camps continued screaming at each other while security intervened. Ariza tossed some homophobic remarks in their direction and then began to mock Roach's speech patterns, another effect of Parkinson's.
The most calm person in the room appeared to be Rios, who maintained his workout on a stair-stepping machine.
The "24/7" series has made Ariza somewhat of a celebrity. Here is a simple fact about boxing. Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran and Mike Tyson never had a strength and conditioning coach. Great fighters existed for a century without strength coaches. What trainers like Ariza bring to the equation is miniscule compared to what trainers like Roach and Garcia bring to the equation. It's the same reason why the pitching coach and hitting instructor on a baseball team make far more money than the strength coach.
In 2007, Roach gave Ariza a job. A quick search of the Internet produced this quote during the height of Pacquiao's success. "Sometimes it's surreal," Ariza said. "Sometimes I'll be standing up there at the Wild Card and I'm standing next to Freddie Roach. It's like a struggling actor coming to Hollywood and next thing you know you're working for Martin Scorcese. He gave me a shot and I made it."
By all accounts, Ariza seems to do his job well. As Pacquiao's success skyrocketed, so did Ariza's profile and ego. He and Roach parted. And now he is kicking Roach and mocking the effects of a debilitating disease.
Boxing seems to be the only sport in which the non-participants need to prove they are as tough as the participants. Roach had more than 50 fights and fought four world champions. Garcia was a former IBF world champion.
Ariza has never had a professional or amateur fight.