The youngest and least expected to bring home a medal is going for the gold.
Carlo Paalam slugged his way to the finals outclassing local Ryomei Tanaka at the Kokugikan Arena in the Tokyo Olympics men’s flyweight semifinals Thursday.
The former scavenger from Cagayan de Oro was just too good for the Japanese as he delivered a performance worthy for the books
Paalam scored on all five judges – 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
And today he goes for the gold that eluded Nesthy Petecio.
And complete a mission that even the much heralded Eumir Marcial failed to do. Marcial lacked the wind to finish off former world champion Olaksandr Khyzhniak last Thursday and lost via split decision -29-28, 30-27, 28-29, 29-28 and 28-29.
Coach Jeaneth Aro today posted on her Facebook page that Paalam is ready to fight.
She wrote: “Tapos na ang mag-weigh in si Carlo Paalam mga friends! Weight is at 51.6 kg (kilogram).”
She added: “He is ready physically, mentally, and most importantly spiritually.”
During her post, Paalam is just six hours from the most important fight of his life against a Briton, three inch taller and five year his senior, who was lucky to land a strong left in the first round to beat Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibossinov. The Kazakh denied Paalam the outright seat to the Tokyo Olympics.
Galai Yafai, a Greek immigrant, is the last hurdle for the former University of Baguio senior high school as he tries to rewrite not just boxing history but Philippine sport when he steps inside the ring at the Kokugikan Arena at 1 Philippine time this afternoon.
“Magaling yang si Carlo, kaya nyang kunin ang gold (Carlo is a good boxer, he can the gold),” commented former UB and national coach Glicerio Catolico, Jr. when Paalam survived a cut on his forehead to beat erstwhile Olympic and world champion Shakhobidin Zoirov in the quarterfinals last August 3.
“Carlo really played good and we are proud,” said UB athletic director Alan Elegado.
UB executives and former Baguio mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. will definitely turn in at the UB gym today to watch Paalam’s journey to greatness today.