Tokyo Olympics

Mindanao boxing fans hold breath as homegrowns fight for gold, bronze

Lynde Salgados
Mindanao boxing fans hold breath as homegrowns fight for gold, bronze

SHOT AT HISTORY. Nesthy Petecio (left) and Carlo Paalam aim for Olympic boxing glory.

Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters (Petecio), Alecs Ongcal/Rappler (Paalam)

Davao del Sur’s Nesthy Petecio fights for a historic Olympic boxing gold as Cagayan de Oro’s Carlo Paalam tries to secure at least a bronze

For the country’s sports fans, the world would be put to a halt on Tuesday, August 3, as the Philippines seeks another Olympic gold after Zamboangueña weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz delivered the first one to end the country’s hunt for the Holy Grail in 97 years of the highly prestigious Summer Games.

Dabawenya female pug Nesthy Petecio, after a come-from-behind win against a much taller Italian foe in the semifinals, aims for the gold opposite home favorite Sena Irie of Japan in women’s featherweight of the Tokyo Olympics boxing competition.

But before their 12 noon slugfest for the podium’s highest form of valor, the pride of Northern Mindanao in former Cagayan de Oro scavenger Carlo Paalam will clash with Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov in boxing’s quarterfinals for the men’s flyweight bronze medal.

The 23-year-old Paalam, born to an ordinary farming couple in Talakag, Bukidnon, before his progress in the City of Gold as a struggling teener, stands a good chance to prevail in his 10:15 am tussle with Zoirov after overcoming with much grit and spunk his Round of 32 and Round of 16 foes who were both two-time Olympian campaigners.

“Of course, everyone’s excited about the fight for gold of Petecio, but we’re equally interested with Paalam’s fight because he is Northern Mindanao’s bet,” said Judge Isagani Ravidas of Cagayan de Oro.

“If he wins, it will be our region’s first medal in the Olympics – he’s a homegrown boxer. Like everyone, I’m praying for his success.”

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Paalam’s townmates in nearby Talakag are also optimistic for the Philippine boxing delegates’ youngest hopeful to succeed in his own quest for glory.

“He has been a warrior since his childhood. A medal win in the Olympics will bring honor especially for us who are from Talakag,” said police officer Froilan Mabalot.

Last year, Talakag Mayor Vergito Factura and 29 of the town’s barangay chairpersons traveled to Manila and cheered when Paalam nailed the gold in the 30th Southeast Asian Games to qualify for the first time in the Summer Olympic Games.

Earlier advancing in the men’s boxing semifinals is Paalam’s hard-hitting compatriot Eumir Marcial, the pride of Zamboanga who won by first-round knockout over Arman Darchinyan of Armenia to secure at least a bronze in the middleweight category.

Filipino EJ Obiena will also be in the finals in the athletics men’s pole vault on Tuesday. – 

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