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Joshua Pacio and Yosuke Saruta’s promises of an explosive match have been burying another potential fireworks-filled bout, that of Lito Adiwang and Hexigetu.
Rightfully so, Pacio and Saruta should be huggiong the headlines as their triology not only resolves a standoff that came by splitting their previous two matches but also comes with a big prize, the only title currently held by a Filipino as Pacio’s ONEStrawweight Championship is at stake.
Adiwang and Hexigetu’s nine months in the making bout, while in the lead card, is also ripe for an action-filled description.
The two are scheduled to cross paths at ONE: REVOLUTION on September 24 in a much-awaited strawweight showdown, the same division as Pacio and Hexigetu.
The bout was originally slated for ONE: UNBREAKABLE last January until travel restrictions in Hebei, China brought upon by a spike in COVID-19 cases forced Hexigetu to skip the event.
But through it all, Adiwang looked forward in mixing it up against proud sanda expert from Horqin, Inner Mongolia. “I wasn’t disappointed that I wasn’t able to meet him last January, but I really wanted to fight him,” he said.
The 28-year-old understands how dangerous of an opponent Hexigetu is, citing the Chinese’s explosiveness as a point of concern.
“I know that he’s as solid as a fighter as they come. We know how explosive he can be, so it’s something that we really are watching for.”
Hexigetu is truly an worth keeping an eye on. He is on a three-fight win streak, going unbeaten since March 2019 when he beat “The Enigma” Ovais Shah of Pakistan via unanimous decision at ONE: WARRIORS OF LIGHT in Bangkok.
He followed it up with another unanimous decision win over Filipino Ramon “The Bicolano” Gonzales at ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS in Beijing back in November 2019, and a close split deicison victory over Dejdamrong “Kru Rong” Sor Amnuaysirichoke on Thailand at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES in October 2020 in Singapore.
With Adiwang on a tear of his own, winning eight of his last nine fights, the only dent is a split decision loss to loss to Japanese contender Hiroba Minowa at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX III last November, fireworks are expected.
Add to these the fact that Adiwang wants to reclaim his place in the ONE Official rankings and knows the big stakes hanging in the balance for this match. A win would likely propel him in the conversation to be included in the ONE Athlete Rankings.
Previously ranked 5th, Adiwang lost his spot to Minowa after the loss.
Adiwang’s climb was delayed when he left without his dance partner although Deep Strawweight Champion Namiki Kawahara of Japan filled in the void at the last minute.
Although the Philippine National Wushu Champion had to scamper with his preparations after being just given a week to shift his game plan, he still came through, tagging his Japanese foe with a killer left hook to score the second round knockout win.
For the Team Lakay rising star, the cancellation of the original fight actually felt like a blessing in disguise as he had a chance to test his mettle against Kawahara, himself a lethal striker, in his continued ascent in the ONE strawweight division.
“I feel fortunate, actually, that the changes led to a match against Namiki, which we already know how that ended up,” he said with a smile.
Adiwang believes that there’s a reason why stars aligned that way, and true enough, he did get a second chance to face Hexigetu in this upcoming Singapore card.
“That canceled fight against Hexigetu only gave us and my team more time to study him and learn his style,” he quipped.
While it doesn’t mean he is already looking past Hexigetu, Adiwang acknowledges winning over the Chinese is his first step in making those dreams a reality.
“I have to win against him if I want to make those dreams a reality,” he said.
Still, being part of the top five is another beast of its own, and he knows that for him to truly earn his place in the strawweight rankings, he will have to take down those currently holding their spots.
“Honestly, I know that I have to beat someone in the top five to earn my place there. Actually, I am ready to face anyone of those in the top five,” he said, laying down the challenge for the likes of no. 1-ranked Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta, no. 2 Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito, no. 3 Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane, no. 4 Minowa, and no. 5 Alex “Little Rock” Silva.
In fact, his defeat to Minowa is a loss he still wants to redeem himself from so a rematch there will be a good fight that ONE should consider.
Doing so would certainly bode well for Adiwang’s plans to remain in title contention as he looks to make up for lost time inside the ONE Circle.
By Armando M. Bolislis