It has been over a year since Joshua Pacio last set foot in the ONE circle.
January 31, 2020, to be exact, when he defended his strawweight title against Alex Silva via split decision in ONE: Fire and Fury at the Mall of Asia Arena.
So just imagine how badly he misses being out there fighting.
“Siyempre as an athlete, miss na miss na,” the 25-year-old admitted in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum webcast powered by Smart, with Upstream Media as official webcast partner, and presented by San Miguel Corp., Go For Gold, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)., Tuesday.
That doesn’t mean that he’s been idle while waiting for his next match, though. In fact, he’s been doing all he can to avoid ring rust once he gets back.
“Tuloy pa rin ‘yung training para walang ring rust sa next na laban,” he said. “I spar sa gym, and ‘yung sparring namin is five rounds. So, walang ring rust.”
He’s also been closely monitoring the developments within his own division, in awe of how much the competition has grown while he’s away.
“Humihigpit na ‘yung strawweight division at talagang nagle-level up na every athlete. As a champion, trabaho lang talaga,” he said.
But that only pushes Pacio to become even better. And there isn’t pressure on his part as well on keeping his status as ONE strawweight’s top dog.
“Pressure has been my friend ever since, kasi bago pa ako maging champion, nandiyan na talaga ‘yan. And tinuro sa akin nina Coach Mark [Sangiao] kung paano i-handle ‘yung pressure, so no pressure,” he said.
“Nagle-level up na ‘yung strawweight division, and ‘yung trabaho natin is to level up din every game natin. I think makikita niyo ‘yun sa next na laban natin.”
Asked who he prefers to be his next opponent, the Team Lakay standout isn’t picky. Instead, he claims he’s ready for whoever’s up there among the contenders.
“Kung sa rankings lang ‘yung masusunod, hindi na kailangan i-predict ‘yung kalaban e. Kung sino ‘yung rank number one ‘yun na,” he said.
At present, a familiar foe in Yosuke Saruta is the no. 1 contender. And if he’s next in line, Pacio doesn’t have any problems with it.
After all, the Baguio-native has said before that there’s some “unfinished business” between them, and he plans to end it in a third face-off.
“We’ve known each other well. Kung maglalaban kami, trilogy. Kung sino ‘yung mas nagtraining, siya ang mas mananalo,” he said.
“Of course one-hundred percent ako na i-uuwi pa rin ‘yung belt. Trabaho ko lang is I need to train. At least one-percent to get better every day.”