Manny Pacquiao’s training camp in the Philippines was not disrupted by last week’s Typhoon Haiyan, which has resulted in up to 2,500 deaths, but trainer Freddie Roach said Wednesday the boxer’s thoughts have certainly been distracted.
Roach said he gave Pacquiao the day off Thursday from preparing for his HBO pay-per-view welterweight fight Nov. 23 against Oxnard’s Brandon Rios in Macao, China, because, “he looked a little tired, he needed a day off to focus on the tragedy. He’ll be back tomorrow.”
Pacquiao is training in General Santos City, 415 miles south of Leyte Island, laid waste by the typhoon, with the United Nations reporting 11 million people affected and 673,000 displaced.
Roach said the weather in General Santos City was “70 and hot, no wind,” while the typhoon destroyed land and lives elsewhere in the country.
While Pacquiao’s congressional district is distant from the damage, the boxer aspires to greater office and his generosity to his countrymen is legendary.
Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum has made a donation of about $22,000 to help in the recovery, a company spokesman said.
Roach said Pacquiao expressed interest in visiting the devastated area, but the trainer said, “He can’t go so close to the fight,” considering reports of rioting where thousands are without aid, communication and government leadership are in disarray and survivors are burying the dead.
“He’s had a lot of calls, we talk about it, he wanted to go down, but I didn’t see it as an option,” Roach said on a Wednesday morning conference call with reporters from the Philippines. “We talk about it in the gym … he understands that, he cares about his people, how thousands of people have been killed in the storm. He is concerned about it, but it’s about giving the fans … he fights for his people. He wants to win for them.”
It’s been a strong camp, Roach said.
After a controversial split-decision loss to Timothy Bradley in 2012, followed by a final-second knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in the sixth round of their December fight, Pacquiao, 34, is desperate for a win -- to the point that Roach said he would ask the fighter to retire if he loses to Rios.
“He knows he needs to win the fight; he’s going to do everything possible to do that,” Roach said.
Roach said Pacquiao would complete his time in General Santos City with sparring, then depart Saturday "to get to Macao for 10 days before the fight."
“We’ve got the game plan planned out. He knows how to fight this fighter and I believe it’s going to be a great night for the Philippines.”
Roach went as far as predicting Pacquiao would stop former world lightweight champion Rios by the end of the sixth round.
Rios “is a tough guy. Tough guys don’t win fights. Manny’s going to out-box him,” Roach said. “You don’t trade with this guy, just box, get in and out, and it’ll be easy and work out perfectly. Good boxers win fights.”
Roach said he wasn't not worried about Pacquiao being diminished by the Marquez knockout, which left him face down briefly on the canvas.
“He says if you don’t realize that” knockouts happen, “you’ve picked the wrong sport,” Roach said. “He looks as great as ever in the ring. If you look at that fight, he was having one of his best fights in a long time … things happen. Whether it’s a lucky punch … if he had made it one second more, no one would be talking about a knockout.
“He’s looked great in training. I know people are skeptical about his knockout, but Manny Pacquiao is a realist. I remember him telling me when I first met him, how he got knocked out twice before .… I don’t think it will affect him at all.”