Pacio out to end Saruta rivalry with trilogy bout

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
Pacio out to end Saruta rivalry with trilogy bout
Joshua Pacio (L) faces off with Yosuke Saruta in ONE: Revolution's official press conference on Thursday
ONE Championship

MANILA, Philippines — Joshua Pacio will be making his third title defense against a familiar rival in Yosuke Saruta.

Though he could've gotten any other opponent as the challenger to his ONE Strawweight World Championship, Pacio preferred the Japanese fighter over everyone else to settle the score between them.

"Yung lagi kong sagot [kung bakit siya ang gusto kong kalaban] is No. 1 contender si Saruta eh, so he deserves to fight me," Pacio told Philippine media recently.

"At the same time, magandang laban ito kasi trilogy so we are both 1-1 and makikita dito kung sino magt-two wins," he added.

Pacio and Saruta first met in the Circle in January 2019, where the Japanese stripped Pacio of his belt in a close split decision win.

Convinced that the Team Lakay fighter had won the fight, ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong organized an immediate rematch months after in April.

There Pacio exacted his revenge with a fourth round KO of the defending champion to reclaim the belt.

Now, more than two years since their last meeting, Pacio knows he'll be meeting a better Saruta this time.

"Nag-improve si Saruta sa mga past na laban niya," said Pacio.

"[So] kailangan din natin mag-improve," he added.

Pacio's first taste of action since the pandemic started, the 25-year-old is getting himself ready with drills.

Veering away from his usual training regimen, the strawweight titlist is pulling out all the stops to gain the upper hand on Saruta and their rivalry once more.

"Kung dati mas marami kaming time for the strength, conditioning sa labas, this time mas marami kaming time na nagdrills, nagfocus sa techniques and sa strengths and weaknesses natin," said Pacio.

Pacio's title defense against Saruta is a co-main event in ONE: Revolution on Friday, September 24, where the main event will see Christian Lee defend his ONE lightweight title against Ok Rae Yoon.

Pacio's compatriots Lito Adiwang and Roel Rosauro will also be seeing action in the event on the lead card.

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