Manny Pacquiao believes the best help he can give to the damaged area of the Philippines right now is dedicating his Nov. 24 comeback fight against Brandon Rios to his countrymen. Even though Pacquiao is training in his home city of General Santos, his camp decided it’s in his best interests to not be distracted by visiting those affected.
Dedicating a fight to his people is great — Filipinos around the world live and die with his fights — but is that what they need most right now? Not saying his heart isn’t in the right place, but this might not be the biggest help to the people who love him so much.
In a "statement to his people," Pacquiao, who also serves as a congressman, said: "I really want to visit the area and personally do what I can to help our countrymen who have suffered so much in this terrible tragedy. But I’m in deep training for a crucial fight so I regret I cannot go."
"I will send help to those who need it the most," he added, "and I enjoin all of you to pray for our country and people in these trying times."
No donation by Pacquiao has been announced.
Clearly, a victory by Pacquiao over the American Rios has the potential to help Filipinos take their minds off the tragedy. But with this week’s comments by trainer Freddie Roach, who said Pacquiao will consider retirement if he doesn’t fight well, the question has to be asked: Is this fight more for Pacquiao than for his people?
Pacquiao, 34, is on a two-fight losing streak, coming off a devastating knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez. The fight everyone wanted, against Floyd Mayweather Jr., is now an afterthought. So what if he loses to Rios? He’s rich. He’s beloved. If he retires, he’s still a hero. If he wants to fight again, he’s still young enough.
Michael Koncz, an advisor to the fighter, said if anyone is able to put the outside distractions on hold, at least for the duration of a bout, it is Pacquiao.
"Manny knows how to manage himself. He’s been in the game a long time and knows his body better than anyone else. He’s in that zone right now; he’s ready. If he had to go tomorrow, he’d be ready."
Too bad he can’t fight tomorrow. Then he could put his career aside and help the typhoon victims.