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Champion Joshua Pacio expecting a grueling battle against well-rounded challenge Yosuke Saruta

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NEWS
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52   //    09 Jan 2019, 15:54 IST

Joshua Pacio
Joshua Pacio

Reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio of the Philippines will have his hands full in his first world title defense when he meets Japanese veteran Yosuke Saruta in the main event of ONE: ETERNAL GLORY on Saturday, 19 January in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The 22-year-old product of Team Lakay understands that it won’t be an easy out for him in ONE’s first event for 2019.

“I’m coming into this fight, as usual, in the best shape of my life,” Pacio said confidently. “The way I fight, my style is very fast-paced with constant movement. To be able to maintain my pace, I have to be in great physical condition. We have worked extensively on my conditioning, and I’m prepared for a five-round war.”

Saruta steps in as a late replacement for original challenger Hayato Suzuki, who pulled out due to an injury. He earned the shot after a spectacular promotional debut that saw him defeat former champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva via unanimous decision back in December.

Pacio believes, however, that Saruta will also be a tough challenge in terms of grappling.

“I think Saruta’s biggest strength is his grappling, although he really has good striking skills. He proved that in his last bout against Silva,” the champion stated. “He is a very well-rounded athlete. I am preparing for the toughest opponent of my career. This is how I always train.”

Pacio adds that he isn’t one to underestimate his opponent, especially since the Japanese star is more experienced in terms of mileage inside the cage.

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“There’s no use in underestimating my opponents. I honestly don’t think Saruta has any glaring weaknesses, and that’s why I’m getting myself ready for a gruelling bout.”

One of Pacio’s biggest aces in the hole will be the support of his team and his coach.

Pacio trains with a handful of current and former world champions in at the famed Team Lakay gym in Baguio City, under the guidance of star mentor Mark Sangiao.

“Of course, we still have a solid game plan in place, and that’s going to be a huge key to victory. I have the best team behind me and the best coach.”

“As long as we put our heads together, and I follow my coach’s instructions, I’m confident I can retain the title and bring home another golden strap to Baguio City,” Pacio added.

The young star is confident that at the end of the night, he will be bringing the ONE Strawweight World Championship back home.

“I see myself winning, and my hand getting raised at the end of the night. But that is as much as I am going to say.”

“Whether that victory comes by knockout, submission, or decision, I will let the fight dictate that. We’ll see how it goes,” he concluded.

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