April 20, 2024

Reigning ONE strawweight world champion Joshua Pacio has vowed to give Filipino fans a fight they deserve to watch when he faces top challenger Jarred Brooks of the United States on Dec. 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Considered the great strawweight in ONE history in his time, the 26-year-old Pacio has been active in training even as he has not defended his belt for almost a year now. He has been training with fellow world-class fighters from the famed Team Lakay in Benguet and Baguio.

EXCITED FOR TITLE DEFENSE — Reigning ONE Championship strawweight world champion Joshua Pacio is excited to defend his title against his toughest opponent yet in American Jarred Brooks when Asia’s biggest media sports property returns to the Mall of Asia Arena on Dec. 3. — ONE photo

The last time Pacio fought inside the circle was during the culmination of his trilogy against Yosuke Saruta at ONE: Revolution in December 2021. The Team Lakay star was an unstoppable force at Singapore Indoor Stadium, knocking out Saruta in a flurry of punches in just the first round.

But Pacio’s stellar performance was only viewed by millions via livestream, as mass gathering was not allowed that time.

“Finally, after almost two years, ONE Championship is back here in the Philippines. I’m really excited because the last time I fought there was no audience and hopefully there will be one when we do the event here in the Philippines,” Pacio said.

Pacio has been soaking all of the pressure heading into his world title defense against Brooks, a fighter who has defeated three fellow title contenders since he joined ONE Championship.

“It motivates me even more because I will defend my world title in front of my countrymen and I hope that I won’t be the only fighter from the gym to fight in this card. I wish that there’d be five or even six of us from Team Lakay so that it’ll be an awesome experience,” Pacio said.

Pacio is on a four-fight winning streak with all of those victories coming in world title fights. The last time he fought in the country was in the third fight of that run.

He scored a split decision win over former world champion Alex Silva at ONE: Fire and Fury in January 2020, which was the last event ONE Championship staged in Manila. – Harley F. Palangchao