Two-time strawweight champ Joshua Pacio just scratching the surface
MANILA, Philippines—Joshua Pacio is on his second reign as the ONE World strawweight champion, and the Team Lakay youngster said he’s far from reaching his full potential.
The 23-year-old Baguio native reclaimed his gold when he knocked Yosuke Saruta out 2:43 into the fourth round in the co-main event of ONE: Roots of Honor with a crushing right knee to the temple.
Pacio’s victory erased his earlier loss to Saruta, who earned the controversial split decision win back on January 19 in Jakarta.
“There are so many people saying that this is my pinnacle, that this is my peak but I still have many years left in me,” said Pacio in Filipino Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena. “This isn’t my peak, I still have so many things to learn. The other fighters are leveling up, so I too should level up.”
Pacio (14-3) had his first reign as champion when he beat Yoshitaka Naito on Sept. 22, 2018 in Jakarta but his rule over the strawweight division lasted just four months after he lost to Saruta.
Sityodtong immediately ordered a rematch and it was in the second bout that Pacio showed that he truly was king of the 125-pound division.
Pacio and Saruta (19-9) were locked in a tight contest for the first three rounds with neither fighter getting clear control over the other.
Saruta scored an early knock down and complimented it with a couple of takedowns but it was Pacio who had the better striking game continually pushing back the Japanese with spinning heel kicks.
“Our first fight had a lot of errors, some said it was 50-50,” said Pacio. “Some said I won, some said I didn’t, but this time I didn’t leave it to the judges’ hands.”
“Coach Mark (Sangiao) told me that when I enter the cage I should be 101 percent confident and that I shouldn’t hesitate to throw combinations and that’s what I did.”
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