Joshua Pacio ‘Will Not Hesitate’ in Trilogy Bout With Yosuke Saruta

Published 09/22/2021, 2:53 PM EDT


Reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio of the famed Team Lakay and #1-ranked strawweight contender Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta have a chance to close the book on their epic rivalry when they meet for the third and perhaps final time this Friday night.

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Pacio and Saruta throw down in a highly anticipated trilogy match at ONE: Revolution, which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on September 24. For the 25-year-old Pacio, the fight represents an opportunity to finish Saruta once and for all, and place him firmly in his rear-view mirror. The Baguio City native says he “will not hesitate” to finish Saruta, if given the chance.

“We know each other well. We faced each other twice, and for me, I’m more confident, I’m different now. Wherever this match goes, whether it be a wrestling match, a match contested on the ground, or on the feet, I’m confident,” Pacio said.

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“For me, I would just want to execute my game plan…for as long as I execute my game plan, whether it’s via decision, submission, or knockout, I’ll take it.”

The two top strawweights first met in January of 2019. A former Shooto champion, Saruta battled Pacio to a split decision, edging out the Filipino by a slim margin to snatch the 125-lb. title. They met again in an immediate rematch just months later, with Pacio exacting revenge on his Japanese rival via a spectacular head kick KO.

This third bout is set to serve as the all-important tiebreaker, and will determine the division’s future. Pacio knows what he has to do to secure the victory and retain his belt.

“I think one thing I can say that I truly have now is confidence. Especially if you look back on the first fight, I wasn’t that confident back then. I don’t think the same can be said now,” Pacio said.

“I think it’s just having more confidence in applying the things that I have learned. Now, I will not hesitate to let my hands and feet go in this match.”

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While he’s certainly looking for another show-stealing knockout victory, Pacio also understands how dangerous an opponent Saruta is. After all, the Japanese veteran does have six knockouts and two submission victories to his name. The last remaining world champion from the Philippines understands he has to be careful in hunting for the finish, lest be on the receiving end of one himself.

“A lot of people have been telling me that I should go for the knockout like the rematch. But if you keep on looking for that, that’s dangerous. There’s a chance that it’s you who gets knocked out,” Pacio said.

For as long as I execute my game plan, whether it’s via decision, submission, or knockout, I’ll take it.”

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ONE: Revolution broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, September 24. Christian “The Warrior” Lee defends his ONE lightweight world title against #3-ranked lightweight Ok Rae Yoon in the main event.

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Raj Sarkar

2568 articles

A senior boxing writer at EssentiallySports, Raj Sarkar is a mass media graduate who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in broadcast journalism. In addition to his current role, he has worked with the MMA team at EssentiallySports and has interviewed prominent fighters such as Ritu Phogat and 'The Red King' Rory MacDonald. He combined his bachelor's degree with his adoration for combat sports and has a combined 2000 plus bylines in MMA and boxing over the last two years.

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