Joshua Pacio stakes his ONE strawweight crown against Jarred Brooks

ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio — ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Title holder Joshua Pacio, from more than 200 kilometers away up north, will not trek down to the capitol only to surrender his belt to an overseas visitor.

And that means going even an extra mile inside the circle when Mr. Pacio (20-3) of Team Lakay stakes his ONE strawweight title against challenger Jarred Brooks (19-2) of the United States in ONE 164 on Dec. 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“This is the fight that will determine who wants it more. And I’m the (defending) champion here. I’m gonna prove that to him,” said Mr. Pacio, dubbed as “The Passion,” with conviction and confidence ahead of the anticipated titular showdown.

Mr. Pacio’s duel against Mr. Brooks is the main event in the stacked ONE card featuring other Filipino fighters including legend Eduard Folayang. It will also mark the return of ONE in the Philippines for the first time in almost three years due to the pandemic.

The fight was originally scheduled last June before its postponement, adding more fuel to the thirst and hunger of the two fighters in gunning for each other’s head.

But as fiery as the battle looms against a belligerent antagonist in Messrs. Brooks, Pacio vow to be the ice — like his breezy roots in the Cordillera mountains — that meets the fire when the bell rings on fight night.

It will not be a walk in the park, Mr. Pacio admitted. In fact, he’s bracing for the toughest climb to the steepest point of his budding career with hopes of conquering it at the final horn.

“Of course, he’ll give me problems but I trained for it. I’m ready for it. He can also expect to get problems from me,” the 26-year-old warrior said.

In three weeks time, Mr. Pacio will travel down to Manila with his world title belt on. At all costs, he expects it to stay when he gets back up. — John Bryan Ulanday