Carlo Paalam pulled off the greatest upset win of his life as he defeated 2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist and 2019 world champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan for a berth in the medal round in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Tuesday, August 3, at the Kokugikan Arena.
Paalam won via 4-1 split decision, 20-18, 20-18, 19-19, 20-18, 20-18, over Zoirov in the men's flyweight quarterfinal, as the referee stopped the bout at the 1:44 mark of the second round after a clash of heads opened a cut above the left eye of Zoirov.
The youngest Filipino boxer on the Olympic team at 23 years old is now assured of a bronze medal – the third Olympic medal from boxing and fourth overall for the Philippines.
This surpasses the Philippines' multiple medal count in the 1932 Los Angeles Games of three medals that were delivered by swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso, boxer Jose Villanueva, and high jumper Simeon Toribio.
Paalam will face Japanese home bet Ryomei Tanaka in the semifinal on Thursday, August 5, at 1:30 pm, Philippine time.
The Cagayan de Oro native had full control of the first round as Paalam banked on his methodical approach and powerful left hooks that sent Zoirov off-balance in the closing seconds of the opening round.
Though Zoirov tried to bounce back in the second round, the referee stopped the bout as both boxers picked up cuts at the 1:44 mark.
With Zoirov's cut looking deeper and Paalam being able to land shots against the Uzbekistan at full force in the dying seconds of the match, the judges gave the win to the Filipino, who fell onto his knees crying.
Paalam had an uphill journey throughout his whole Tokyo Olympics campaign, facing two-time Olympians Brendan Irvine of Ireland and Mohamed Flissi of Alegeria in the earlier bouts.
Paalam now joins the Philippines' first Olympic gold medalist, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, world champion Nesthy Petecio, who is set to battle for Philippine boxing's first Olympic gold on the same day, and boxer Eumir Marcial, in securing medals for the country in the Tokyo Games. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.