Carlo Paalam took home the men’s flyweight silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, officially capping the Philippines’ most successful run in boxing in Games history.
Paalam had targeted gold, but he could not get past Galal Yafai of Great Britain in their final at Kokugikan Stadium.
His runner-up finish was the second such result by a Filipino fighter in these Games, after Nesthy Petecio. With Eumir Marcial’s bronze, the 3 boxing medals are the most in a single Olympiad by the Philippines.
Paalam’s achievement also hiked the overall medal haul of the Philippines 1-2-1 gold-silver-bronze, the country’s best showing ever.
The 23-year-old tried to maintain distance from the charging Yafai using a jab-right straight combination.
But the relentless pounding by the Brit forced Paalam to cave in. Yafai dropped Paalam with a left in the first round, costing the Filipino much in the fight.
After playing catchup in the second, Paalam became the aggressor in the third, wobbling Yafai with a left hook.
But the adjustments proved too late, as Yafai walked away with a 4-1 victory and the gold.
The road to the Olympic finals was not easy for Paalam, overcoming Ireland's Brendan Irvine in his first bout via a 4-1 split decision to advance to the round of 16.
He then trounced the three-time Olympian Mohamed Flissi of Algeria through a unanimous decision, 5-0.
Paalam, 23, assured himself of a medal after rallying a huge upset victory in the quarterfinals when he toppled Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan, the reigning Olympic and World champion.
Paalam showed no fear of the champion and flaunted great aggression to take the opening round before the bout was stopped with 1:16 to go in the second round after both fighters sustained cuts.
In the semifinals, the Cagayan de Oro native outboxed the taller hometown bet Tanaka Ryomei, 5-0, to march into the finals.
"The entire Filipino nation is very proud of the silver medal finish of Carlo Paalam in the Men’s Flyweight Boxing Competition in Tokyo.," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement.
"Carlo's road to the Olympics is the story of Filipinos – one filled with perseverance, sacrifice and hard work. May Carlo's performance further serve as an inspiration to young generation of Filipinos."
Paalam previously won silver at the 2016 world youth championship in St. Petersburg, Russia and gold at the 2017 President's Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan, the 1st Thailand International Boxing Tournament, and the 10th AIBA International Boxing Tournament in 2018.
He also captured the gold medal at the 30th Southeast Asian Games by outclassing Indonesia’s Kornelis Langu in the men’s light flyweight final.
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