MANILA, Philippines -- Former strawweight champion Yosuke "The Ninja" Saruta is brimming with confidence heading into his highly-anticipated rubber match against reigning champion Joshua Pacio of the Philippines.
The Japanese standout will take on the Team Lakay ace in one of three world title matches scheduled at ONE: Revolution, which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, September 24.
It will be the third encounter between the strawweight dynamos, and both Saruta and Pacio are looking to settle the score as they each have one win over the other.
The top-ranked contender in the strawweight division, Saruta knows that Pacio will be as dangerous as ever. Yet he is confident that he will emerge victorious and walk out as the undisputed strawweight champion.
"I will break Pacio's fighting spirit, break his will, and finish him between rounds four and five. That's my prediction," the Japanese ace declared. "Whether I knock him out or submit him, I am coming for the finish."
Saruta first locked horns with Pacio in 2019, when he surprised Pacio by winning a close split decision to wrest the strawweight belt from the Filipino's grasp. The two figured in an immediate rematch shortly after, but Pacio was able to even up the score and reclaim his title via a thrilling head kick knockout victory.
"The Ninja" anticipates that the third bout will be different, as both men have improved since the last time they were inside the ONE Circle together.
"I've fought against Pacio twice already, but it was a long time ago. It's been two-and-a-half years since we met in the Circle. To be honest, I cannot imagine how much Pacio has improved," he admitted.
"I know he's a better fighter now, but we don't know how much he has changed since we haven't seen him fight in a while," he added.
While he acknowledged Pacio's growth as a fighter, Saruta pointed out that he, too, has greatly improved.
"I've been training very hard and trying to become a better fighter overall. I really want to showcase my skill set, techniques, and fighting style, things that I haven't shown before," he said.
Given the history between the two fighters and the stakes in the bout, Saruta said there can be no doubt that they will put on a show.
"This fight will be very explosive and exciting from the first round. We are both aggressive fighters who like to push the pace. The fans will be shaking in their seats. They are going to think to themselves, 'Can these guys continue like this for five rounds?'" he predicted.
"This matchup has 'Fight of the Year' written all over it. Fans will not be disappointed," the Japanese fighter promised.
Headlining ONE: Revolution is the lightweight title bout between defending champion Christian "The Warrior" Lee and No. 3 ranked contender Ok Rae Yoon.