Paalam punches way to semis, assured of an Olympic medal

Paalam punches way to semis, assured of an Olympic medal

FILIPINO boxer Carlo Paalam advanced to the semifinals of the Tokyo Games flyweight boxing tournament on Tuesday, assuring the Philippines will get another Olympic medal. — REUTERS

FILIPINO boxer Carlo Paalam advanced to the semifinals of the Tokyo Games flyweight boxing tournament on Tuesday, assuring the Philippines will get another Olympic medal.

The 23-year-old Bukidnon native secured his spot in the final four after defeating defending Olympic flyweight champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan by split decision on points, 4-0, in their quarterfinal clash at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.

Mr. Paalam came out aggressive and took the fight to his opponent right at the opening bell, connecting with solid blows to the head and body en route to claiming the opening round.

In the second, action continued to be frenetic with both fighters tagging one another with clear shots.

Unfortunately, midway into the round both absorbed cuts after a head collision.

Ukrainian referee Pablo Vasylynchuk called for a halt to the play to have the two fighters checked by the ring physician.

With both fighters deemed unfit to continue because of the slight gash in their heads, the fight was halted and awarded to Mr. Paalam, who was ahead on points at the time of stoppage, 20-19, on four judges and a tied 19-19 score in the fifth official for a 4-0 win.

“We really wanted to take the opening round to put pressure on my opponent. Thankfully, we were able to do that and it affected how the fight went,” Mr. Paalam said in Filipino after his win.

Ricky P. Vargas, president of the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines, lauded the efforts of Mr. Paalam to make his way to the medal rounds.

“He’s (Paalam) ready… More than just the preparation physically, it is his mental focus that has brought him where he is now. Look at his eyes, he really wants it,” Mr. Vargas said in an interview with TV5.

Mr. Paalam’s victory assured the Philippines will get a fourth medal in the Tokyo Olympics after the gold won by weightlifter Hidilyn F. Diaz and those of boxers Nesthy A. Petecio (silver) and Eumir Felix D. Marcial (at least bronze).

In the semifinals set for Aug. 5, Mr. Paalam will face Ryomei Tanaka of Japan. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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