Carlo Paalam

In fight with no room for errors, Carlo Paalam does everything right

Delfin Dioquino
In fight with no room for errors, Carlo Paalam does everything right

EMOTIONAL. Carlo Paalam celebrates as he stuns 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics gold medalist Shakhobidin Zoirov.

Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

In a shortened bout that featured only two rounds, Carlo Paalam leaves a lasting impression on the judges as he dethrones reigning Olympic flyweight champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan

Boxer Carlo Paalam had great odds stacked against him going into the Tokyo Olympics men’s flyweight quarterfinals on Tuesday, August 3.

After all, standing in his way was Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan, who won the flyweight gold medals in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and 2019 AIBA Boxing World Championships.

But in a fight with no room for errors, Paalam did everything right as he stunned Zoirov with a split decision win to barge into the semifinals and secure at least a bronze medal.

It was a shortened duel that featured only two rounds, with referee Pablo Vasylynchuk of Ukraine stopping the bout after a clash of heads opened a cut above the left eye of Zoirov.

After taking the pivotal first round with identical 10-9 scores from all five judges, Paalam clinched the victory with four judges scoring in his favor, 20-18, 20-18, 20-18, 20-18.

One judge had it tied at 19-19.

“He tried to get the first round, but coach Ronald (Chavez) told me that I should win the first round so I can put pressure on him,” Paalam said in Filipino in a dispatch from Tokyo.

“I won the first round and he kept pressuring me. My coaches said that I should just let my game show.”

Zoirov also sustained a cut above his left eye when he bagged the flyweight gold in Rio de Janeiro with a unanimous decision victory over Misha Aloian of Russia in the finals.

This time, though, the referee felt the need to stop the fight as blood oozed out of his wound, leaving Zoirov with no chance to come back from his deficit.

With Paalam through to the semifinals, the Philippines is now guaranteed of four podium spots for its biggest medal haul in Olympic history.

The Filipinos’ conquest in Tokyo surpassed the three-medal finish in the 1932 Los Angeles Games.

Paalam can upgrade his medal to at least a silver and contend for the gold if he beats hometown bet Ryomei Tanaka of Japan in the semifinals on Thursday, August 5. –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.