TOKYO—The Philippines’ Carlo Paalam moved near-effortlessly to the quarterfinals of the men’s flyweight 48-52kg division in the Summer Olympic Games with a 5-0 decision over Algeria’s Mohamed Flissi Saturday the Kokugikan Arena.
Paalam gained a good workout against Flissi, who had his hands hanging from his waist ready to engage at close range.
But Paalam got explicit instructions from Abnett and men’s head coach Ronald Chavez, a 1996 Atlanta Olympics veteran, not to wade into the fray.
“’Yung kalaban kasi niya mahilig sa hablig, kaya ang ginawa namin, kunwari papasok si Carlo, tapos aatras, sabay papasok uli na may kasama ng suntok,” Chavez said.
The fight plan worked to perfection as Paalam consistently slipped in right straights to the head, including one with 2:10 left in the third round that buckled Flissi’s knees.
Now standing in the way of Paalam and a shot at the bronze medal is the division’s top seed, 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics gold medalist Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan, who defeated Daniel David Varela de Pina Cape Verde, 5-0, in the preceding Round of 16 bouts.
Paalam, 23, from Carmen, Cagayan de Oro, and a product of the government’s Palarang Pambansa program, will have his hands full against Zoirov, 28, also the champion in the 2019 World Championship at Yekaterinburg in Russia.
Don Abnett, the national team’s Australian training director, doesn’t see Zoirov as invincible though.
“We’re confident, We watched Zoirov just outside the dressing room on our way out and we saw some holes in his style, which Carlo could exploit,” said Abnett.
“Sobrang saya po sa panalo. Maraming salamat sa lahat nang nagdarasal at sumusuporta,” said Paalam.
“Carlo is a smart fighter. He knows he needs to take it a step at a time. He has a big fight coming up against the Rio gold medalist,” said Ricky Vargas, president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines. “He needs that to ensure a podium finish. I know he will give it his all. May God look kindly upon him.”
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