Team Lakay’s Joshua Pacio yields ONE strawweight title to Yosuke Saruta
JAKARTA, Indonesia—Yosuke Saruta quickly turned from a replacement fighter to world champion in less than a month.
Saruta proved he was a worthy challenger after toppling Joshua Pacio in five grueling rounds to earn the strawweight world title in the main event of ONE: Eternal Glory late Saturday night at Istora Senayan here.
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The 34-year-old Japanese, who was rewarded with a split decision victory, won the belt in just his second fight on the ONE Championship stage. He was tapped as replacement just three weeks ago after his compatriot Hayato Suzuki pulled out from the bout due to an injury.
“I was just really focused on winning the fight and I couldn’t recall much of what happened but one thing I remember is it was a really, really tough fight,” Saruta (19-8) told reporters through an interpreter.
Pacio’s heartbreaking loss trimmed Team Lakay’s world champions to three with flyweight king Geje Eustaquio staking his title six days from now in third meeting with former champion Adriano Moraes in Manila.
The Indonesian crowd rallied behind the spry Filipino as they kept chanting “Pacio” throughout the fight.
But the tough-as-nails Saruta was unfazed and sustained his aggressiveness up to the final bell.
The 23-year-old Pacio (13-3), whose four-fight winning run was snapped, had described Saruta as an “explosive and well-rounded fighter” and he was on cue.
Saruta was as good on the standup as he was on the ground. He took down Pacio several times including in the final minute of the fifth round.
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