Tacloban City was especially hard hit as Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines, and cable providers are hoping the return of Manny Pacquiao will lift spirits as free screenings have been set up for Saturday's fight.
Tacloban City residents are still recovering and attempting to restore some semblance of normalcy after Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the Philippines. The death toll associated with the typhoon is expected to surpass 5,000, with the estimated death toll around 1,700 for Tacloban City alone. Earlier estimates had a death toll of more than 10,000 for Tacloban City.
The Associated Press is reporting that cable providers are banding together to host public screenings of Manny Pacquiao Vs. Brandon Rios. Pacquiao's comeback fight will air live from Macau, China, and the Filipino fighter is a legend in his country, currently serving as a congressman in the district of Sarangani after running unopposed in his 2013 re-election bid. The hosts hope that a screening of the national icon's first fight since getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 will boost morale in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
A huge public screening will be held at Tacloban stadium, which has served as a primary location for those that have been displaced by the typhoon, notes AP. Sky Cable is setting up a screen at the stadium, while other screenings will be held throughout Tacloban City, including near a local church, at the Tacloban City Hall and a local park.
Pacquiao has been a source of pride, and many expect the boxer to dedicate the fight to the Philippines, with the impact of Typhoon Haiyan to add more weight to the proceedings. Many believe that his performance will serve as a morale booster. Ronnie Nathanielz, a boxing analyst, said to AP, "His impressive performance will lift the spirit of the people, no matter what."
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Bob Arum, Pacquiao's promoter, announced a donation of 1 million Philippine Pesos, notes Yahoo Sports Philippines. Pacquiao is expected to follow suit and announce a donation for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and will visit Tacloban City and other affected areas.