Joshua “The Passion” Pacio was originally scheduled to defend his ONE Strawweight World Title against Hayato Suzuki of Japan in the main event of ONE: ETERNAL GLORY on 19 January, but due to an injury, his Japanese challenger was forced to pull out from the bout.
Multiple-time Wushu World Champion Rene “The Challenger” Catalan admitted that he was ready to fill in for Suzuki to face Pacio for the intricately-crafted hardware.
The 40-year-old Iloilo City native felt that he deserves to share the cage with Pacio after piling up five-straight victories on the ONE Championship stage.
In 2018 alone, Catalan amassed two impressive victories, kicking off his year with a second-round stoppage of Chinese prospect Peng Xue Wen at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE last January.
Six months later, he then routed Stefer “The Lion” Rahardian in dominant fashion, outpointing the Indonesian strawweight prospect by way of unanimous decision at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS.
“I think my previous performances can vouch for my position as a contender for the belt. I scored five-straight victories against top-tier opponents, which qualifies me to be a title contender,” Catalan expressed.
However, another Japanese competitor was tapped to take Suzuki’s spot as the task to square off with Pacio for the prestigious belt was given to Yosuke Saruta.
Saruta made himself a strong candidate to duke it out with Pacio after defeating former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva in his promotional at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS last 7 December.
Although he was not chosen as Suzuki’s replacement, Catalan respects the decision of the promotion’s matchmaking committee and believes that a title shot will eventually fall into his lap.
“I respect their decision for choosing Yosuke Saruta. Of course, there is a reason behind it. I accept it wholeheartedly. It’s not my time yet,” he said. “I am patiently waiting. I know it will come.”
With the goal to perform at his very best against the top-notch talent that his weight class has to offer, Catalan stands firm that it is a matter of time before he gets the nod to vie for the gold-plated strap.
“My goal is to keep on winning until my time to compete for the title comes,” he stressed. “This kind of situation motivates me more. I expect big and favorable things to happen this 2019.”