ONE Championship: Joshua Pacio determined to bring world title back home to Baguio
Santino Honasan on Sep 20, 2018 02:50 PM
"Winning the belt means the world to me. There are a lot of fans who look up to me and I can’t let them down."
It has been two years since Joshua Pacio first challenged Yoshitaka Naito for the ONE Strawweight World Championship.
Then just three fights into his ONE Championship career, the 22-year old Pacio was impressive in the first two rounds, but his inexperience led to one single costly mistake that ultimately led to a Naito submission victory in the third round.
Since then, Pacio has steadily cemented his spot in the upper echelon of ONE Championship's strawweight division, scoring wins over former champion Dejdamrong Amnuaysirichoke, as well as running through his last three assignments in impressive, devastating fashion.
Many believed that after his most recent victory - a spectacular submission win over Pongsiri Mitsatit in Manila - Pacio was deserving of another shot at the world championship.
The Team Lakay prodigy however, maintained that he would wait for the call instead of asking for another shot at gold.
So when it was announced back in August that Pacio would finally be getting his long-awaited rematch against Naito for the strawweight crown at ONE Championship: Conquest of Heroes in Jakarta, Indonesia, it came as quite the surprise for the new number one contender.
"When this fight was announced, it came out of nowhere." Pacio shared. "I have always said that I would wait patiently for a title shot and face anyone that ONE Championship put in front of me. I have stayed true to my word and now, I’m ready to take on the champion again."
Pacio is just one in the long list contenders that have their sights set on the title held by Naito. And while he admits that there are indeed a handful of other fighters that are equally as deserving, Pacio knows in his heart that it's his time once again.
"There is a lot of talent in my weight class, and I know a lot of guys want a shot at the belt too. But I have been preparing for this moment since our first fight. It’s still fresh in my mind and I have done everything I can to improve my skills to I can claim victory this time around.”
Looking back at his first bout with Naito back in 2016, Pacio understands that he may have been put in the position a bit too early.
Now, motivated by the success of his mentors in Team Lakay, names like former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio Banario, former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang, reigning ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon, and reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje Eustaquio, Pacio is determined to add another belt to Team Lakay's trophy case.
“My mind is clear and calm. My focus is on bringing that belt home to Baguio City." Pacio said. "I admit I was very young and inexperienced in that first title shot. It’s different now. Training with my Team Lakay brothers, they have molded me into a complete fighter and I am ready to showcase my skills."
Against Naito on Saturday, September 22nd, Pacio gets another shot at a life-long dream of becoming a world champion.
This time around, he vows not to let the opportunity go to waste once more.
"Winning the belt means the world to me. There are a lot of fans who look up to me and I can’t let them down. I have worked so hard over the last couple of years, now it’s time for harvest. I owe everything to my teammates, to God, to the fans, and everyone who has shown their support. Winning this title is a dream come true and will be the start of a new chapter in my career.”
Joshua Pacio challenges Yoshitaka Naito for the ONE Flyweight World Championship at ONE: Conquest of Heroes on Saturday, September 22nd. Catch it LIVE starting at 10:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!