by Matt Gerovac
It has been a bit of a struggle for Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino congressman and boxer, to focus on boxing. As he continued to train in his native, typhoon-ravaged Philippines, for his fight versus Brandon Rios, Pacquiao felt compelled to help his fellow countrymen. But the multi-talented national hero has appeared to stay focused on the match despite the estimated 2,300 dead as a result of the storm.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
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,” and I enjoin all of you to pray for our country and people in these trying times.”
Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach was able to persuade him from leaving his training, while allowing him to lend some aid remotely.
During a Wednesday teleconference, Roach said, “While he’s focused on the fight, obviously it’s a distraction because he cares about his people. We talk about it in the gym. He is concerned about it, yes, but he is pretty much on track for the fight.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s adviser, said the former champ will visit devastated parts of the Philippines after the Saturday, November 23 fight at the Venetian Casino’s Cotai Arena in Macau.
“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 victims’ families. Absolutely, he is dedicating this fight to the victims of this.
“Pacquiao’s entourage leaves for Macau today. But don’t expect much more news from his camp. Pacquiao is focused on the fight.
“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.”
Konzc assured fans that if anyone could block out distractions before a fight, it’s 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.”