The fabled rivalry between Joshua Pacio and Yosuke Saruta may have been over, but their brotherhood remains the same.
Team Lakay’s Pacio defended his strawweight belt for the third straight time after knocking out Saruta in the first round in their trilogy bout in ONE: Revolution at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last Friday, Sept. 24.
“People may see us as a rivalry, they may see as going at each other inside the Circle, but brother you are one of the reason[s] why I improved so much not just inside the Circle but outside the Circle,” said Pacio, who improved to a 20-3 record, the most wins in the strawweight division. “Thank you for the lessons and the experience that you taught me, til we cross each other’s path again.”
This was Pacio’s response to Saruta’s earlier tweet, who was graceful in his defeat as their rivalry, which began in January 2019, came to a close.
“There was no good point in the game and I lost KO in [first round]. It’s frustrating, but Pacio was strong,” wrote Saruta, who shared a photo of him with Pacio striking a pose while clad in casual wear.
The two strawweight superstars first clashed in the Circle in January 2019 where Saruta stripped of Pacio’s belt via split decision.
The Team Lakay stalwart was fresh from a unanimous decision win against Yoshitaka Naito, of Japan too, in September 2018 to become the strawweight world champion.
In their rematch, the 25-year-old Pacio evened their scores at 1-1 as the Igorot warrior stunned Saruta with a lethal high knee strike in the fourth round in April 2019.
Since then, the reigning strawweight champion from the famed Benguet stable rode on a four-match win streak and defeated the likes of compatriot Rene Catalan in November 2019 and former world champion Alex Silva of Brazil in January 2020.