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ONE Championship: Joshua Pacio remains unscathed in Manila

For newly-crowned ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, there’s simply no place like home.

Pacio’s latest homecoming was turned into instant celebration as he reclaimed his World Title after knocking out Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta in the co-main event of ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR at the Mall of Asia Arena, in Manila, last Friday, 12 April.

The 23-year-old Baguio City-native scored a sensational knockout victory in the fourth round of their match-up to improve his overall record to 5-0 when competing in front of his hometown crowd.

“They bring a different kind of energy, it gives me courage to hear them and to be honest, I don’t feel tired,” said Pacio.

“The feeling is cannot be explained. I don’t know if I would cry out of joy because winning the championship in front of Filipino fans is such an experience.”

It was another memorable outing for Pacio in Manila as he added another clip to his growing highlight reel in the sprawling metropolis.

In his previous four battles in the country before Saruta, Pacio had also finished all of his opponents, including a jaw-dropping inverted kimura win over Pongsiri Mitsatit, a rear naked choke over Ming Qiang Lan and a spinning backfist KO over fellow Filipino Roy Doliguez.

While the crowd has always played a huge factor in all of Pacio’s wins in the Philippines – the soft-spoken phenom said that he also made a conscious effort in trying to finish, as he did not want to leave his fate at the hands of the judges.

“I know that even though we’re here in the Philippines, you can’t leave it in the hands of the judges,” said Pacio.

“If there’s an opportunity to finish, go for it. I saw the opening and it paid off.”

While ecstatic with the win, Pacio was also grateful to Saruta for bringing out the best in him.

Saruta narrowly edged out Pacio in their initial meeting at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY last January, prompting Pacio to revisit his style and work on the things that still needed to be worked on.

Confidence was one of the things that he was able to work on heading into that second contest and Pacio showed it fully.

“This is by far the most challenging match I have ever been into. It taught me that being a champion entails being confident and focused all the time,” said Pacio.

“It doesn’t matter how long you train, what I’ve learned from the first fight is that if you hesitate, all those preparations will go to waste,” he added. “I wouldn’t have improved if it wasn’t for him.”