To be the best, you gotta beat the best.
Reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio has kept that thought firmly on his mind as he continues to rule the 56.7-kg class in ONE Championship.
And with an influx of new talent continuing to come into the promotion in 2022, the proud Filipino titleholder is determined to face nothing but the best to prove himself worthy of keeping his seat at the throne.
“The strawweight division is getting more and more stacked and this excites me because this pushes me to become better and better everyday. This motivates me to level up every single day,” he said.
Pacio understands the level of threat those chomping on his tail present for him and it’s for that reason that he’s not taking any opponent lightly.
That’s why though he remains waiting for his next fight, he has kept himself prepared for any eventuality and has closely studied his potential foes.
“For me, all of them pose a big challenge, and it’s for that reason that we review them one by one because they have their unique strengths and weaknesses. They are also all hungry to be on top, so we do not just focus on one athlete but rather, we focus on the athletes that are in the rankings,” he said.
With that in mind, Pacio has primed himself for potential bouts against those in the top five, especially no. 1-ranked Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane, no. 3 Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks, and no. 4 Hiroba Minowa.
“Jared and Bokang are more explosive athletes and they are very athletic coming from their wrestling background. As compared to Minowa who is more of a relaxed athlete, but when he gets to his rhythm, he can take you down and pressure you just like [Yoshitaka] Naito,” he said.
Brooks and Minowa are set to clash at ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE on 28 January in what could be a possible title eliminator.
But it’s not just those who are in the top five that Pacio is keeping tabs on.
He was also glad to see other Filipino strawweights in Jeremy “The Jaguar” Miado and Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan get their chances to be back into action and stake their claims to be considered as legitimate contenders.
It was unfortunate, though, that the two Pinoys had to be pulled out of their respective matches due to health and safety protocols.
“I’m very happy to see Filipinos emerge in this weight class, this is really a weight class for a lot of Asian athletes like me,” he said.
“Jeremy Miado is leveling up and we saw that in his last outing against Miao Li Tao. He just dominated the fight, using his range and boxing skills. And Robin, this guy can close the show in the blink of an eye just like what he did to Gustavo [Balart].”, assessed Pacio before their pull out.
Still, Pacio’s focus is on his own growth as he knows that with more and more challengers trying to catch him, he’s hard-pressed to prove that he remains as the king of the strawweights.
“Our plan this year is to level up and level up of course, every single day, to defend our belt and show our improved skills, not just for me but for the whole Team Lakay,” he stated.
By Armando Bolislis with ONE Championship release