Joshua Pacio gets wish, set to complete trilogy with Yosuke Saruta

Published August 18, 2021, 4:40 PM

by Manila Bulletin Sports

Photo from ONE Championship

ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio returns to ONE Championship and at the same time gets his long-time wish.  

The Filipino World Champion returns to the Circle to complete a trilogy with rival  Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta in one of the featured matches at ONE: REVOLUTION on 24 September. 

“For me, a trilogy is unfinished business. I’ll go for the trilogy against Saruta. And after that, it could be Bokang [Masunyane] or it could be anyone that [ONE] wants me to face,” Pacio said.  

The last person to beat the 25-year-old phenom was actually Saruta, as Pacio dropped a close decision loss to the Japanese athlete back in January 2019. 

“The Passion” got him back three months later, scoring a fourth-round knockout win with a well-placed knee to the head to score a knockout win and reclaim his strap in front of his home crowd in the Philippines.  

Since then, the rivals went on separate paths, with Pacio defending his strap against Rene “The Challenger” Catalan and Alex “Little Rock” Silva while Saruta went on to beat Daichi Kitakata and former World Champion Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito.  

Now all signs point to these two men meeting once more and putting a lid on their rivalry, and Pacio believes it all boils down to who’s improved more in the last two years.  

“We know each other well. We’ve faced each other twice. He knows my style and I know his. I think whoever’s improved the most since that second fight will win,” Pacio said.  

“I think I’m levelling up, but at the same time he’s also improved. I’ve seen him beat Naito and he was really impressive.” 

Pacio isn’t the only Filipino competing at the event though, as his stablemate and fellow strawweight Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang returns to action against “Wolf Of The Grasslands” Hexigetu.  

Adiwang is coming off a one-punch KO win over Namiki Kawahara early this year, and another impressive win over the tough Chinese bruiser should put him in a good place in the ONE athlete rankings.  

Also competing on the card is Roel Rosauro, who looks to make it two in a row when he takes on James Yang in a three-round featherweight bout in the event’s curtain raiser.  

In the meantime, catch the previously recorded ONE: BATTLEGROUND III on 27 August at 8:30 p.m. on One Sports and One Sports+. It will air simultaneously onthe ONE Super App

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