Pacio knocks out Saruta in 1st round, retains ONE strawweight title

Published September 24, 2021, 10:23 PM

by Carlo Anolin

ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio proved that he knows no ring rust after a stunning first-round technical knockout win over Japanese rival and No. 1 contender Yosuke Saruta, marking a successful title defense for the third straight time in ONE: Revolution at the Singapore Indoor Stadium Friday night, Sept. 24.

Joshua Pacio floors Yosuke Saruta in their trilogy in ONE: Revolution at the Singapore Indoor Stadium Friday night, Sept. 24. (ONE Championship)

History repeats itself as Pacio once again found another huge loophole on Saruta’s defense with a quick reaction time to catch the low kick and countered with a powerful right overhand punch that sent the Japanese fighter shortly down the canvas.

Saruta quickly stood back at his feet but the Team Lakay stalwart unloaded a vicious left hook from behind, cornered “The Ninja” against the wall, and threw a barrage of punches and multiple left hooks before referee Justin Brown shoved Pacio aside and halt the match at the 3:38 mark.

“It’s been one year and eight months since that I’ve been out so it’s been hard but I’m ready and I proved that I’m here to stay as a champion,” said Pacio, who tested positive for COVID-19 last April, in a post-match interview with ONE commentator Mitch Chilson. “It’s really about who’s gonna find the right opening and I did it.

“We’ve been working on our strengths and weaknesses and we’ve been working on our counter coz I’m more of a counter striker so we worked on our offense so you can see it there,” added the champion known as “The Passion.”

Both fighters remained calm and composed in the first few minutes of the match as both strawweights tested the waters with a few exchange of striking and inside kicks.

Pacio’s counter striking was also evident as the Igorot warrior traded blows with Saruta’s jabs and hooks.

The 25-year-old Pacio first caught Saruta’s low kick and then unloaded a right overhand counter and repeated the same tactic en route to his third triumphant title defense since reclaiming the belt against “The Ninja” himself way back in April 2019.

It would be recalled that Pacio scored a fourth-round knockout win against Saruta with a vicious knee strike and since then rode on a four-match win streak, taking down the likes of compatriot Rene Catalan and former world champion and now No. 5 Alex Silva of Brazil.

Pacio improved to a 20-3 record, the most wins in the strawweight division, and put an end to their seasoned rivalry with Saruta while the Japanese warrior fell to a 21-10-3 win-loss-draw card.