Pacquiao dedicates next fight to typhoon victims

Manny Pacquiao believes the best way to bring inspiration and
hope to the victims of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in his native
Philippines is to win his comeback fight against Brandon Rios.

To do that, he has to limit the distractions ahead of the Nov.
24 fight in Macau. So that rules out a visit to the areas most
devastated by the deadly typhoon to the north of where he’s in a
training camp at General Santos, in the southern Philippines.

It’s a heart-wrenching decision but his handlers, including
veteran trainer Freddie Roach, have insisted it is for the
best.

In what he called a ”statement to his people,” the 34-year-old
Pacquiao 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.”

Roach persuaded Pacquiao not to compromise his preparations for
the fight, although he had granted him some time off to assist
remotely.

”While he’s focused on the fight, obviously it’s a distraction
because he cares about his people,” Roach said in a teleconference
on Wednesday. ”We talk about it in the gym. He is concerned about
it, yes, but he is pretty much on track for the fight.”

Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz told The Associated Press in a
telephone interview Wednesday that the former pound-for-pound
champion was hoping to visit devastated parts of the Philippines
after his fight at The Venetian Casino’s Cotai Arena in Macau.

Authorities have confirmed at least 2,300 dead and hundreds of
thousands displaced by the typhoon.

Koncz, who is in camp with the boxer in General Santos, said it
was difficult for the former champion not to go out and help.

”Manny’s desire was to go to that area and to visit them and
lift the spirits,” Koncz said. ”But we have the most important
fight of his career.

”His heart and prayers go out to the survivors and the victim’s
families. Absolutely, he is dedicating this fight to the victims of
this.”

Pacquiao and his entourage leave for Macau on Monday.

”It’s been one of the best camps I can remember. No tensions
within – everyone dedicated to our jobs and working hard,” Konzc
said. ”Manny’s in the best physical condition he can be in. His
mindset is on showing the world he can still compete to the highest
level.”

Pacquiao has said the Rios fight, his first of the year, will be
the start of his intended return to his peak form and to show that
consecutive losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez are
not the start of a decline.

”The fans are going to be in for a fight, for a treat,” Koncz
said. ”If Manny sticks to the game plan, I truly don’t believe the
fight is going to go more than four or five rounds.

”He’s determined to show the world nothing has declined in his
skills and abilities. He’s very motivated for this fight.”

Koncz said if anyone was able to put the outside distractions on
hold, at least for the duration of a bout, it was 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.”