Manny Pacquiao is dedicating his comeback fight against Brandon Rios to the victims of the devastating typhoon that has left at least 1,700 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced in his native Philippines.
The eight-division champion is in camp in the southern Philippines – only about 320 kilometers (200 miles) from where Typhoon Haiyan caused the most destruction – for the Nov. 24 bout in Macau.
Pacquiao, a congressman, said in a statement: “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.’’
He added: “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.’’
Meanwhile, moments after setting foot in Macau following a trans-Pacific flight from Los Angeles, the team of Brandon Rios exuded confidence in the final days leading to next week’s clash with Manny Pacquiao.
“Team Rios ready for war,” said lead trainer Robert Garcia in his social media account upon checking in at The Venetian.
Rios and his team left the US mainland late Monday night via EVA Air and landed in the former Portuguese colony early Wednesday after a layover in Taipeh.
Rios trained exclusively in Oxnard, California, and is looking forward to sending Pacquiao into retirement.
If Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez could not do just that, the 27-year-old Rios said a smashing win on Nov. 24 will compel the 34-year-old Filipino to reconsider his plan of fighting a few more times before putting a close to an illustrious 19-year career.
This is the first time that Rios is fighting outside the US and his decision to be in Macau way ahead of the pack stems from his desire to get used to the local conditions. (AP/Nick Giongco)