TOKYO—Carlo Paalam just couldn’t let all those years of training go down the drain.
With this in his mind and heart, Paalam hammered a split decision win over Brendan Irvine of Ireland in the men’s 48-52kg boxing competitions of the Summer Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena here on Monday.
“Ang haba-haba ng training, tapos tatalunin ka lang. Buhos buhos muna,” said Paalam after scoring a 4-1 win against the no. 3 flyweight in the 2017 European Championships, earning the nod of the four judges from Morocco (30-27), Colombia (29-28), Argentina (30-27) and Russia (29-28), except the official from Kazakhstan, who favored the Irish, 29-28.
“Thankful, kasi nanalo tayo on the first day ng laro ko,” said Paalam, the champion of the 2017 and 2018 editions of the President’s Cup in Kazakhstan and Thailand.
The Cagayan de Oro native was the aggressor from the start, his 1-2 combinations hitting their mark and throwing the Irish boxer off his game. Irvine, however, figured out Paalam’s game-plan starting in the second round and went toe-to-toe with him. It didn’t helped Paalam’s cause, too, that he thought he was behind in the scorecards, prompting him to be reckless in the second.
“First round po sinasabihan po ako ng mga coaches namin magaling po talaga, matangkad pa. Binabasa ko sya nu’ng first round. Hanggang second round, nabasa nya rin po ako,” revealed Paalam. “Sukatan na kami ng laro po. Sa last round, ibinuhos ko na talaga kasi alam kong may natititira pa sa akin.”
Their furious exchanges had Paalam nearly draining his energy.
“Medyo dikit man ang laban, at least, ibinuhos 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,” said Paalam, who takes on Algeria’s Mohamed Flissi on Saturday at 10:48 a.m. (Philippine time). Riera U. Mallari
Flissi was the flyweight winner of the 2017 African Championships in Brazzaville, C¥ngo, and the champion of the 2019 Golden Belt in Bucharest, Romania.