ONE: Long layoff feeds Joshua Pacio's hunger to stay on top | Inquirer Sports
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ONE: Long layoff feeds Joshua Pacio’s hunger to stay on top

By: - Reporter / @MarkGiongcoINQ
/ 07:50 PM June 30, 2021
joshua pacio team lakay one championship

Joshua Pacio celebrates after successfully defending his ONE strawweight world title against Alex Silva in the main event of ONE: Fire & Fury on Friday, January 31, 2020, at Mall of Asia Arena. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Currently in the longest layoff of his career, Joshua Pacio is raring to defend his ONE strawweight strap.

Pacio hasn’t been in the ONE Circle since he successfully defended his belt with a split decision win over Alex Silva of Brazil back on January 31, 2020.

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“I’m more than thrilled to get back inside the circle as it’s more than a year since my last bout,” he said.

The Team Lakay star has options when it comes to his next fight but if he would have his way, he’d go with a familiar foe in Yosuke Saruta.

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“A trilogy with Saruta would be great, but it really depends with ONE Championship if who will be my next challenger,” he said.

After all, the Japanese challenger is the No. 1 ranked contender in the division.

Pacio and Saruta split their two meetings with the Filipino taking the rematch via stunning knockout in April 2019 to regain the title three months after losing it to Saruta.

“The strawweight division is very stacked right now with the finest strawweight athletes in the world,” said Pacio.

“I watch their bouts and I continue to learn them and from them. I know for sure that I need to continuously level up because I can’t stay idle. But that’s a challenge I’m enjoying.”

After Brandon Vera yielded the heavyweight title last April, the 25-year-old Pacio stands as the lone Filipino champion in ONE.

Pacio, though, is confident that his fellow Team Lakay warriors especially the newcomers will prove their worth.

“I’m super motivated to get back and defend our title, especially that my other teammates have joined ONE Championship already. I’m very happy for them and for us, and you will see the next generation of Team Lakay athletes come in full force,” he said.

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