Paalam faces tough road ahead

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Paalam faces tough road ahead
Carlo Paalam.

MANILA, Philippines — Featherweight contender Carlo Paalam has three more wins to go before clinching a ticket to Paris but it wont be an easy pathway as the fights are scheduled one day after another starting today against Armenias Artur Bazeyan at the second World Olympic Boxing Qualifying Tournament in Bangkok.

If Paalam gets by Bazeyan, hell advance to engage the winner of the match between Dominican Republics Jose de los Santos and Chinese-Taipeis Lee Cheng-wei tomorrow. And if hes still standing, his next bout will be on Saturday.

If Paalam makes it to the semis and loses, hell get a last chance to book a pass in a box-off for the third available Olympic slot on Sunday. In Paalams weight class, there are only three tickets up for grabs with 63 fighters at the start gate. So far, Paalam has won two bouts convincingly, outpointing Greeces Alexei Lagkazasvili and Turkmenistans Sukur Ovezov both via 5-0 decisions. Paalam bagged a silver in the flyweight 52kg division at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and now, hes aiming for a second Olympic stint in the 57kg class.

Aside from Paalam, the Philippine teams other hope for a Paris ticket is middleweight (75kg) Hergie Bacyadan. She eliminated Spains Dunia Martinez Mas in her first bout last Monday and will need two more wins to clinch. There are four slots available in Bacyadans division so making it to the semis will nail it. Bacyadans next fight is against Hungarys Veronika Nakota on Saturday. If Bacyadan wins, shell go for her third win and the Paris ticket on Sunday.

ABAP chairman Ricky Vargas will arrive in Bangkok this afternoon. “Primary goal is to qualify for an Olympic spot,” said Vargas. “My continued best wishes and lots of prayers offered for Carlos and Hergies success. Lets go to Paris. Sumbag, Pinoy.”

ABAP secretary-general Marcus Manalo said Paalam and Bacyadan are facing tough opponents but they have the advantages and the key is to work with their strengths. “Hergie needs to get to her range and set up powerful attacks,” Manalo added. “Carlo needs to create attack angles and use his speed to land combinations.”

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