MACAU -- While Manny Pacquiao's immediate focus is, of course, on this weekend's contest with Brandon Rios at the Venetian Macao, his thoughts are inevitably also with his countryman in the Philippines, who are still suffering from the ravages of Typhoon Haiyan, which plowed into the country on Nov. 8 and caused at least 4,000 deaths.
However, far from being a distraction, the crisis is, says Pacquiao, serving as stimulation during his preparations.
"I am more motivated for this fight, to win this fight because of what happened in the Philippines," he said this week. "My countrymen, I want to make them happy. To bring honor to my country."
His coach, Freddie Roach, agrees.
"I think the typhoon is motivation for Manny, because you know what? We thought about going to ground zero, and we were talking to the camp about it, and we discussed it and we agreed that if anybody goes, the camp will go," he said in Macau on Friday. "Because that's what we did in Baguio with the typhoon up there [in 2009]. But this time the fight was getting too close, and we decided Manny winning the fight was the best thing we could do. Manny has sent a lot of money down there, a lot of food down there, he's sent his people down there, the congress people who work for him. He's done everything possible that he can do, and his goal now is to win the fight for his people. That's what makes him tick."
Meanwhile, Sands China Ltd., which owns the Venetian Macao, has announced it will contribute to Haiyan relief efforts. The company has already made a $100,000 donation to the Macau Red Cross, which it will follow up by donating 100 percent of the gate receipts from its on-site closed-circuit feed and then matching that figure with an additional contribution. Red Cross donation boxes will also be placed throughout CotaiArena during the fight card.