Joshua Pacio looks to thrive under pressure in chase to regain belt
MANILA, Philippines—Team Lakay has been under a microscope ever since the famed stable lost all of its four World titles in ONE Championship in a span of three months at the start of 2019.
There is, however, someone who can start reclaiming Lakay’s glorious mystique from 2018 and that is 23-year-old Joshua Pacio.
Pacio (13-3) was once the owner of the ONE World strawweight championship but he suffered an unfortunate split decision loss to Japanese fighter Yosuke Saruta (19-8-3) back in January, but he’s focused more than ever to regain the strap that once belonged to him.
The strawweight contender will have a chance at his previous title on Friday when he faces Saruta for the rematch in the co-main event of ONE: Roots of Honor at Mall of Asia Arena with thousands of prying eyes set to watch him intently.
And Pacio is relishing that attention.
“This is not a new situation to us, we’re used to it already,” said Pacio. “In situations like this, the pressure is our friend. Now it’s up to us on how we’ll get our belts back.”
Pacio was the first Team Lakay fighter to lose his World title after Saruta’s aggression and early control of the fight earned the Japanese the razor-thin decision win.
Geje Eustaquio came next, yielding the ONE World flyweight belt to Adriano Moraes.
Team Lakay then suffered its greatest defeat when Kevin Belingon lost the ONE World featherweight belt to Bibiano Fernandes and Eduard Folayang relinquishing the ONE World lightweight title to Shinya Aoki on March 31 in Tokyo.
Pacio said he’s going all out in his rematch with Saruta especially since he believes he was the true winner of their first fight in Jakarta.
“If there’s an opportunity for a knockout, I’ll go for it. But based on experience, you can’t look too much for a knockout cause it usually turns out the other way around,” said Pacio. “If we’re going to look at it in the point system, I still feel like I won. But if you’re watching the bout, I understand how they feel that Saruta won—he kept moving forward and he was aggressive.”
“Now the plan is to be committed with my attack. Last time, I was caught off guard and I wasn’t able to throw what I wanted to.”
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