"Parang debut ko ulit" - Joshua Pacio's comeback trail begins in Manila

Santino Honasan on Nov 08, 2017 05:01 PM
Joshua Pacio's comeback trail begins in Manila
Team Lakay's Joshua "The Passion" Pacio lands a punch on former ONE champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke. (File Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)

Back in April of 2016, a young upstart from Baguio city by the name of Joshua Pacio made his ONE Championship debut at Global Rivals in Manila. 

The kid impressively stopped fellow Pinoy Rabin Catalan in the first round to make an immediate splash in ONE's strawweight division. 

It also set the tone for the year that Pacio would have. 

In his next assignment, Pacio choked out Thai grappler Kritsada Kongsrichai in Macau, which skyrocketed him to contender status and earned him a shot at strawweight king Yoshitaka Naito. 

Many thought that Pacio was pushed into the title picture a bit too early, and while the kid from Baguio proved that he belonged in the cage with the champion, one little mistake led to his downfall as Naito submitted Pacio in the third round. 

The loss did little to damage Pacio's stock, as he was still considered as one of the top guys in his weight division, and he proved that in his next outing by edging out former champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, inching closer to another crack at Naito for the title. 

In August of 2017, Pacio found himself back in Macau, again in a fight that could earn him another world title opportunity. 

This time however, he would be on the wrong end of a submission loss at the hands of Japanese newcomer Hayato Suzuki. 

With the loss, Pacio moved back a bit in the line of strawweight title contenders. 

Three months removed from his defeat in Macau, 'The Passion' is back, and his comeback trail begins in the very same arena where he began his ONE Championship career. 

"Parang debut ko ulit, bumalik ulit," Pacio said about fighting at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

("It's like I'm making my debut again, I'm back here.")

He'll be fighting in front of a hometown crowd for the first time since his promotional debut. His last four bouts have been in Macau, Yangon, Thailand, and Macau again. 

And just like his debut, Pacio finds himself on the undercard, again taking on a fellow Pinoy in veteran Roy Doliguez. 

This time around, he won't be an up-and-coming young prospect looking for his first win. Rather, he'll be a contender who's looking to regain his spot at the upper echelon of the division. 

"Kahit anong mangyari, kailangan ko manalo dito para i-prove ko na nasa top of the division pa din ako." 

("Whatever happens, I need to win to prove that I still belong at the top of the division.")

Interestingly enough, Suzuki will also be fighting on the same night in Manila, against Brazilian contender Alex Silva on the main card. 

While Joshua knows that it could easily have him in there against Silva, his focus now is to just keep on winning until he gets back in the title picture. At this point, it doesn't matter who ONE Championship puts in front of him. 

"Kung nanalo ako dun [sa Macau], ako sana lalaban kay Alex Silva. Pero okay lang kahit sinong ibigay ng ONE na susunod, basta laban lang ng laban hanggang maka-title shot ulit."

(If I had won in Macau, I would be fighting Alex Silva instead. It's okay, I don't care who ONE puts in front of me next, I'll keep fighting until I earn a title shot again.")

The loss to Suzuki may have been a tough pill to swallow for the Baguio native, but it also served as a lesson for the young Lakay warrior. 

"Para sa akin ang dami kong kailangan ayusin at baguhin at tsaka i-improve. Hindi ako nadidismaya, ganun."

("For me, I know there are a lot of things that I need to fix and change, and improve. I'm not going to let this bring me down.")

Friday night in Manila, Pacio gets the chance to once again show that he still is a contender in the ONE Championship strawweight division. 

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