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Heart, smarts help Paalam pull off biggest career upset vs Uzbek foe

Nelson Beltran - Philstar.com
Heart, smarts help Paalam pull off biggest career upset vs Uzbek foe
Uzbekistan's Shakhobidin Zoirov (red) and Philippines' Carlo Paalam fight during their men's fly (48-52kg) quarter-final boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on August 3, 2021.
Luis Robayo / Pool / AFP

TOKYO – Ranged against the best fighter he’s ever faced atop the ring, Carlo Paalam showed no fear and no intimidation, but just a big fighting heart.

Paalam tore apart Uzbek Shakhobidin Zoirov and his title-retention aspiration in a continuing display of methodical boxing here, scoring a split technical decision to enter the men’s flyweight semifinals.

TRACKER: Carlo Paalam at the Tokyo Olympics

“Siya yung pinakamagaling na nakalaban ko. Nahirapan ako, pero hindi ko ininda yung mga tama ko dahil gusto kong manalo,” said Paalam of his victory that assured him of a bronze that he can turn to gold with two more wins.

“Se second round, tinamaan ako sa tiyan. Parang gusto niyang ilabas ang hangin ko,” Paalam also said.

But the 23-year-old Cagayan de Oro fighter survived the tough test against the bemedaled Uzbek, getting the victory on points after the ring physician ordered the fight stoppage in the 1:16 mark of the second round with both sustaining cuts in a head clash

The Pinoy drew scores of 10-9 from all five judges in the first round. In the second round, he got four 10-9s with one judge scoring the same for the Uzbek.

The 4-0 final verdict for Paalam paved the way for his semis entry versus hometown bet Ryomei Tanaka, a split decision winner over Colombia’s Yuberjen Rivas.

“We are overjoyed with Carlo’s win over the Rio gold medalist. It was an upset that the coaching staff told me was imminent, but we were still concerned until Carlo came out smoking in the first round. He truly looked like a champion,” said Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines president Ricky Vargas.

“Clicked yung strategy ni Carlo na hintay-hintay lang sabay pasok. Pasok din against the Uzbek,” said coach Ronald Chavez.

It was a duel of two crafty fighters, but Paalam got the upper hand in being the quicker with a big volume of punches.

“Pareho kaming nagkakagatan sa laro. Binabasa niya rin pag pumasok ako, parang doon siya kumukuha ng bwelo. Pag pumasok naman s’ya, doon naman ako nkakatama sa kanya,” said Paalam.

“Parang pareho kami ng diskarte, patamaan ng mabilis. Kita n’yo naman kanina parang maa-out balance ako, magaling din s’ya kumuha ng distansya,” he added.

But as young as he is, Paalam outfoxed and outpunched the grizzled Uzbek warrior whom he’s been following since his junior years.

“Pinapanood ko ang mga laban niya,” said Paalam.

And that gave him a pretty good knowledge of the Olympic champ that he dethroned.

2021 TOKYO OLYMPICS BOXING CARLO PAALAM
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