Pacio renews desire for Saruta trilogy

Published April 7, 2021, 3:49 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Team Lakay’s Joshua Pacio (right) is eyeing for a trilogy with Japanese rival Yosuke Saruta. (ONE Championship)

ONE Championship strawweight king Joshua Pacio isn’t looking at anyone but Japanese rival Yosuke Saruta.

Pacio has renewed his desire to face the seasoned Japanese fighter in a trilogy this year.

“Tatapusin namin ‘yung trilogy, pero hindi pa sure (We will end the trilogy, but it is still uncertain),” said the 25-year-old Pacio during the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum held virtually Tuesday, April 6.

In a previous interview with the Manila Bulletin, Pacio said he wanted to settle the unfinished business with Saruta this year, but ONE Championship has yet to give the go-signal for the champion’s next challenger.

Pacio has not fought since scoring a split decision win against Alex Silva of Brazil to defend his strawweight belt in January 2020.

The Team Lakay stalwart, who holds a 17-3, record, is currently on a three-match win streak including back-to-back title defenses against compatriot Rene Catalan (arm-triangle choke) in November 2018 and Silva.

Saruta, for his part, has won two of his most recent fights against Daichi Kitakata in October 2019 in ONE and Yoshitaka Naito, ONE’s No. 2 strawweight, in Shooto: Road to ONE 3 in September last year.

After beating Naito (unanimous decision) for the strawweight title in September 2018, Pacio’s reign came to an end early after Saruta dethroned him in January 2019 with a split decision victory.

But it wasn’t too long before the Igorot warrior exacted revenge after knocking out Saruta with a head kick to reclaim the strawweight championship.

Pacio is all fired up knowing that the No. 1 Saruta is most likely going to be his next opponent.

“Kung sino yung mas nag-improve, mas nag-training, I think siya yung mananalo (Whoever improved and trained the most will win the bout),” added Pacio. “And of course, 100 percent ako na iuuwi natin ‘yung belt kung sakali. Trabaho ko lang is I need to train at least one percent to get better every day (Of course, I’m 100 percent confident that I will take the belt home once more. I need to train at least one percent to get better every day).”