(UPDATED) Carlo Paalam is through to the gold medal match of the men's flyweight division, after claiming victory over hometown bet Tanaka Ryomei in the semifinals on Thursday afternoon at the Kokugikan Arena.
Paalam outboxed the taller Tanaka to win on points, 5-0.
The Japanese tried to use his reach advantage to keep Paalam at bay, but the Filipino followed their game plan to the letter as he scored off quick punches before rotating out of the way of Tanaka's jabs.
Paalam landed the clearer punches, particularly in the second round where a flush hit snapped Tanaka's head back. The Japanese fighter was more aggressive in the third round, but he only won the nod of one judge as Paalam continued his fine boxing.
"'Yung strategy na ginawa ko, idinaan ko sa bilis. Ginawa ko kung ano talaga 'yung laro ko," Paalam told reporters in Tokyo after his match. "Kailangan pag-isipan mo 'yung mga galaw mo, at saka tiwala sa sarili."
"Kaya po kami nagte-training, nage-ensayo para po dito," he added.
It was an impressive effort for the young Filipino, who dropped to his knees and let out a roar of triumph when the result was announced.
The 23-year-old from Cagayan de Oro will now get to fight for the Philippines' second gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics in Saturday's final.
It has been a meteoric rise for Paalam who in 2017 was the lone member of the Philippine boxing team not to win a medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.
He returned, much improved, in 2018 and won a bronze in the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. A year later, Paalam won his much coveted SEA Games gold, and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics via the IOC Boxing Task Force rankings.
The young Filipino has had a superb run in the Olympics already, including an upset victory over reigning Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan in the quarterfinal that assured him of a medal.
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