All Systems Go For All-Filipino One Championship Title Showdown

By Mark Raymundo Nov 7, 2019
It was only two months ago when Filipino pugilists Pedro Taduran and Samuel Salva fought for the vacant IBF minimumweight title at the Philippine Marine base in Taguig City, Philippines. Before that, the last time two Filipino boxers figured in a world title fight on home soil was in 1925 when the great Pancho Villa defended his world flyweight crown against Clever Sencio.

Over at One Championship, two local heroes made sure Filipino combat sports fans won’t have to wait another 94 years to personally witness an all-Filipino title bout. Rene Catalan and Joshua Pacio are set to raise the flag, albeit on opposite sides, as they battle for the One Championship strawweight on Friday.

Talks of them contesting for the belt surfaced as early as last year when Catalan was making his way up the ranks, sealing the deal when he stopped former strawweight king Yoshitaka Naito earlier this year. Naito is the same guy who dealt Pacio the first loss of his professional career in September 2016. The 23-year-old Team Lakay standout, however, avenged that loss two years later at One Championship “Conquest of Heroes.”

In January, Pacio lost the title to Yosuke Saruta, whose reign was cut short as Pacio regained the belt with a spectacular head kick KO in a rematch three months later. Meanwhile, the 40-year-old Catalan is on a six-fight winning streak and will look to prove that his hunger and determination will nullify any advantage the much younger Pacio may have.

The two warriors will headline One Championship “Masters of Fate,” which takes place at the Mall of Asia Arena on Nov. 8. In the co-main event, former two-time lightweight champion Eduard Folayang will look to snap a two-fight skid as he faces a fierce Mongolian in Tsogookhuu Amarsanaa.

The last time the basketball-crazy nation was shaken by a combat sports contest that didn’t have the name Pacquiao on the card was when Jerwin Ancajas fought Jonas Sultan for the IBF super flyweight strap in 2018. That same year, Donne Nietes faced Aston Palicte for the vacant 115-pound title. Now it’s time for a pair of MMA representatives to take center stage.

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