Paalam hammers out split decision victory

Published July 26, 2021, 12:54 PM

by Tito Talao

Ireland’s Brendan Irvine (red) and Philippines’ Carlo Paalam fight during their men’s fly (48-52kg) preliminaries boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. (Photo by Buda Mendes / POOL / AFP)

TOKYO — Boxing continues to keep alive the medal hopes of Team Philippines in the XXXII Olympiad.

A third Filipino boxer advanced to the Round of 16 Monday as Carlo Paalam, sharp and relentless, rumbled through three rounds in hammering out a split decision victory over tall but lanky Brendan Irvine of Ireland in the flyweight 48-52 kg division at the Kokugikan Arena.

Paalam followed teammates Nesthy Petecio and Irish Magno to the next round in the preliminaries, with a second win assuring them of berths in the quarterfinals.

Petecio, a unanimous decision winner over Marcelat Sakobi Matshu of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 54-57kg category Saturday, shoots for a place in the quarters against Chinese-Taipei’s Lin Yu-Ting later in the day.

Magno, on Sunday, steered clear of complications by outboxing Christine Ongare of Kenya through three rounds 5-0 in the women’s 48-51kg Round of 32 bout.

Next up for Magno is Thailand’s Jutamas Jitpong, whom she beat in the semifinals of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games on the way to the gold medal bout where she took the silver.

The fourth Filipino boxer who earned passage to the Games, middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial, is seeded to the Round of 16 of the 75kg division against a yet to be determined opponent on July 29.

The 4-1 split decision came as no surprise as the Irish fighter, about four inches taller and with longer reach, went to his advantage after getting mugged in the first round, which Paalam took in the card of all five judges.

Paalam never wavered though even as two judges gave the second round to the Irishman, and two others had the Filipino trailing in the third.

The finals scores went 30-27, 29-28, 28-29, 30-27 and 29-28.

“Thankful kasi nanalo tayo on the first day ng laro ko,” said Paalam, a native of Cagayan de Oro.

“Medyo dikit man ang laban, at least, binuhos ko kung anong natitira sa pagod ko. Binuhos ko na lahat po. Nakita nyo naman kahit pagod na pagod na ako, suntok pa rin ako ng suntok kasi gusto ko talaga manalo para sa pamilya, para sa team.”

Paalam admitted the Irishman had him figured out by the second round.

“Una, first round po sinasabihan po ako ng mga coaches namin na magaling po talaga, matangkad pa,” he said.

“Binabasa ko siya nung first round. Hanggang second round, nabasa niya rin po ako.

“Sukatan na na lang po kami ng laro tapos non. Sa last round, binuhos ko na talaga kasi alam kong may natititira pa sa akin.”

In Paalam’s corner were men’s team head coach Ronald Chavez, Australian consultant Don Abnett and assistant mentor Elmer Pamisa.

The Filipino bet will next face fourth seed Mohamed Flissi of Algeria, who earned an opening round bye.