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.”