ONE Championship: Amid Recent Struggles, Joshua Pacio Looks To Fly Team Lakay Flag High In Manila
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 04, 2019 04:57 PM
“I am confident that we’ll get those belts again,” (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
Team Lakay wrapped up 2018 with four ONE World Champions in its stable, and now, just three months into 2019, they are left without a single gold-plated strap.
The fallout puts the pressure on Joshua “The Passion” Pacio to perform as he looks to regain his ONE Strawweight World Championship on Friday, 12 April.
He challenges reigning titleholder Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta at ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR, which takes place from the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila.
Despite feeling some pressure, he is inspired — especially after teammates Eduard Folayang and Kevin Belingon lost their belts at ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo, Japan last Sunday.
“What happened in Japan was certainly an added motivation,” Pacio said. “It wasn’t too long ago when we had so many World Champions. Now, we don’t have any. I’m just motivated to get that belt back.”
The string of losses in World Title bouts began when Pacio yielded his then-ONE Strawweight World Championship to Saruta in a hotly-contested split decision at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY last January.
Six days later, it was Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio who lost his ONE Flyweight World Title by unanimous decision to longtime rival Adriano "Mikinho" Moraes in the main event of ONE: HERO'S ASCENT.
It didn't get any better for Team Lakay in Japan at what was the biggest event in ONE Championshiphistory.
Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon dropped his ONE Bantamweight World Title by disqualification to Bibiano "The Flash" Fernandes in the co-main event, and Eduard "Landslide" Folayang lost his ONE Lightweight World Title via first-round submission to Shinya "Tobikan Judan" Aoki.
Now, the Baguio City martial arts squad begins their road to redemption, and Pacio will look to get the ball rolling in front of his countrymen on Friday night.
While he is motivated, “The Passion” also understands the burden he carries.
“The pressure is always there, but I am used to it. I have always felt it," he explained.
"From the first time I fought for the belt, there’s always been pressure. But this is a different type of pressure altogether.
“Competing for the World Title in the Philippines gives a different kind of pressure, but it’s already there, and it’s just for the taking. I just have to be 100 percent focused."
Nonetheless, Pacio has an undying belief in himself, as well as his team.
For instance, he has witnessed his fellow teammate win the World Title before, only to lose the belt, and later reclaim it.
The Filipino prodigy knows the road back to the gold is a difficult one, but Team Lakay has conquered it before and they intend to do it again.
“I am confident that we’ll get those belts again,” Pacio said.
“We’ve already been there. Kuya (older brother) Eduard got knocked out in front of our countrymen in the past, and he bounced back stronger.
“This is not a new situation for us, We’ll try to work on our weaknesses, and I’m confident we’ll get all our belts back.”
Now, it is Pacio’s responsibility to set the pace