TOKYO – Carlo Paalam shoots for gold and glory when he fights Great Britain’s Galal Yafai in the men’s flyweight boxing finals of the Summer Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena here on Saturday. Paalam’s date with history is at 1 p.m. (Philippine time).
On Thursday, Paalam barged into the fight for the gold after hurdling Japanese Ryomie Tanaka via a unanimous decision win, assuring the gold medalist of the 2017 President’s Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan a silver the pandemic games.
Paalam tries to upgrade the color of his medal against Yafai, Britain’s reigning Best Boxer awardee and the champion of the 2018 Golden Belt in Iasi, Romania.
“Hinihiling ko lang po sa kapwa ko Pilipino na ipagdasal ako. Gagawin ko ang best ko, kasi hindi ko naman hawak ‘yung desisyon, tsaka ‘yung kalaban ko kasi magaling din. Tiwala lang sa sarili. Sana ibigay na sa atin ng Panginoon,” said Paalam.
Paalam’s guaranteed silver is the third medal of the boxing team in these games, counting the silver of featherweight Nesthy Petecio and the bronze of middleweight Eumir Marcial, who also on Thursday, dropped a close split decision loss to Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine.
Paalam has been nothing short of phenomenal in the Olympiad. After defeating Ireland’s Brendan Irvine, 4-1, in his opening bout, Paalam was even more impressive in his next two.
He hammered a unanimous decision win against Algeria’s Mohamed Flissi, before eliminating reigning Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan via the same emphatic 5-0 fashion to move into the semifinals against the Japanese, who on Tuesday won a 4-1 verdict in what looked like a lost bout against Rivas Martinez of Colombia.
The 23-year-old Paalam had to beat Tanaka convincingly just to avoid the sympathetic judging that are usually accorded hometown bets. And he did, as Paalam pulled off a clinical 5-0 unanimous decision win to enter the gold-medal showdown against the Brit.
“I played the best match ever so I don’t regret anything,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I don’t feel I lost because the opponent was very good; I just lost to myself.”