|Rene Catalan initially hesitated to challenge for Joshua Pacio's One strawweight title, but the bashing prompted him to make history. One Championship|
By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--Rene Catalan and Joshua Pacio are set to make history on Friday night as they dispute for the One strawweight belt in a rare all-Filipino title showdown to headline One: Masters of Fate at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
[Related Story: All-Filipino fight between Joshua Pacio, Rene Catalan to headline One: Masters of Fate]
However, while he is cherishing a huge moment in Philippine combat sports, Catalan admitted that he has some reservations about it.
"Happy ako but not totally happy kasi kapwa Pinoy ko yung kalaban. Hindi na Philippine flag ang dinadala ko," he said on Tuesday after One held an open workout featuring some of the fighters in the fight card at the Elorde Sports Center in Paranaque.
He then revealed that he was to battle another Filipino last August only that he begged off.
"Ayokong lumaban sa kapwa Pinoy kasi gusto kong ibandila parati ang watawat ng Pilipinas," he reasoned his decision to back out of the said match and his initial hesitation to face Pacio.
But three months after that, Catalan had a sudden change of heart and accepted the challenge to fight Pacio for his belt.
Catalan explained that he wants to make a point to those who criticized him and his team for dodging fellow Filipinos as opponents.
"Hindi na maganda kasi yung throw ng mga fans sa amin, especially sa akin. Hindi na maganda yung mga pambu-bully," he further said. "Marami pang nagpe-pray na sana ma-injury ako at matalo."
It was when he read the haters' hopes for him to suffer a major injury when Catalan had had enough.
"Nag-trigger din sa akin," he rued.
But even if he will be embroiled in a historic battle with Pacio, Catalan insisted that there is no love lost between Team Lakay and the Catalan Fighting System.
"We idolize Team Lakay kung anuman ang narating nila. Wala kaming inggit. Sinasabi ko sa mga athletes ko na we need to look up to Team Lakay. Alam natin kung paano sila naghirap bago nila marating. Sabi ko, 'Gayahin natin yung discipline. Kumbaga, kung ano ang narating nila, i-look up natin sila,'"he added.
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