By Jun Ray Navarres
Team Lakay Joshua Pacio seeks to set a good example for his younger stablemates coming into the conclusion of his story against Japanese archenemy Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta.
Tagged as the torchbearer of the stable’s new breed, Pacio is a fitting bridge from the past to the future as the Filipino fighters strive to remain as one of the best signed under the ONE Championship banner.
“Of course, we are very happy with where we are right now and I really believe that this is the fruit of our hard toiling. Still, we intend to prove that we’re here to stay,” expressed the 25-year-old World Champion.
“I’m excited to see Stephen Loman, Danny Kingad, Jeremy Pacatiw, Jenelyn Olsim, and Jhanlo Mark Sangiao get back inside the ONE Circle and really show what they can do because I have no doubt that they will become champions, too, in the near future.”
To be a good role model to his young turks in Baguio-based stable, Pacio has to defend his belt and remain at the peak of the strawweight division on September 24 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
But it is a fight Pacio has been longing for?
Despite stopping Saruta with a head kick in the fourth round of their second encounter in ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR back in April 2019, Pacio understood that a third fight is necessary especially when they are 1-1 in standing.
Also, with Saruta climbing back to the No. 1 spot in the division rankings, a trilogy is a must.
“Personally, I don’t think that a third bout against Saruta is necessary after what happened in our last encounter. In our last bout, it was a clear victory for us,” said Pacio.
“I see that he has occupied that no. 1 spot in the ONE Athlete Rankings, so I agree that he deserves to face me one more time.”
Before the third fight is booked, Pacio has always been wary on his next possible contenders.
Although he knows that it’s still up to ONE Championship to decide who those next in line would be, he couldn’t help but play the role of a fantasy booker, especially with the amount of talent chomping on his tail.
“It’s still ONE who has to answer who they think is the most deserving, but from my part, I’d like to see a match between Yoshitaka Naito and Bokang Masunyane, and the winner of that can be the next contender,” said Pacio.
Nevertheless, he wants to silence his critics in this third fight against Saruta as he attempts to showcase the most complete Joshua Pacio the world has ever seen.
“You will see a more calculated version of me,” he testified.
“I know that I wasn’t really able to show everything that I can do, but this time around, I will give my all to perform and enforce every single skill that we have been working on. You can expect a more audacious Joshua Pacio to take the stage this time out.”
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