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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Pacio wants Saruta trilogy before anything else

A hungry and well-rested ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio is now ready for his next challenge, and if he’s to decide, he hopes to settle some unfinished business. 

There may be a lot of people gunning for him, but “The Passion” is hellbent on pursuing his trilogy with former World Champion Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta, the only guy to beat him in a stretch of four years. 

Since 2017, Pacio has been on a tour-de-force in the strawweight division, going 7-1 with only two of his wins reaching the final bell. 

That lone loss came from Saruta, and while he was able to get the win back shortly after with a head kick knockout in their rematch, Pacio knows there’s some business that needs to be settled. 

“For me, a trilogy is unfinished business. I’ll go for the trilogy against Saruta. And after that, it could be Bokang [Masunyane] or it could be anyone that they want me to face,” Pacio said. 

In that stretch, Pacio has beaten the who’s who of the division, scoring wins over #2-ranked Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito, #5-ranked Alex “Little Rock” Silva, and former top contender Rene “The Challenger” Catalan. 

A fresh face in Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane could also be an option for Pacio as his next challenger, and while Pacio acknowledges the undefeated South African dynamo’s presence in the division, he believes that now’s not Masunyane’s time. 

“He’s very explosive. His athleticism is through the roof. He also has power in his hands. He’s a wrestler, but I know he’s looking to become a well-rounded athlete, and we’ve seen that against Rene Catalan when he scored that knockout,” Pacio said.  

“His explosiveness and athleticism makes him a handful against anyone in the strawweight division.” 

For now, however, the only way for Pacio to move forward is by ending his rivalry with Saruta, and only after that will he focus on the guys gunning for him. 

After all, he believes he has improved more than Saruta since they last faced each other. 

“I think it’s going to be amazing if a trilogy takes place. We know each other well, we’ve faced each other twice. He knows my style and I know his. I think whoever’s improved the most since that second fight will win,” he said.

“I think I’m levelling up, but at the same time he’s also improved – I’ve seen him beat Naito, and he was really impressive. 

“Of course, his confidence is rising, but my job as a World Champion is to improve more, improve better than [my] challengers.”

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