Leaning on his speed, Carlo Paalam differentiates self from Uzbek champ
In a fight where he faced a mirror image of himself, Carlo Paalam found a way to separate from Uzbekistan’s Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov in their flyweight quarterfinal at the Tokyo Olympics.
“It seemed like we had the same strategy. He’s also good at measuring the distance. I also had a hard time against him because he’s a southpaw, he has experience and he’s really good,” Paalam said in Filipino.
“We really fight the same but I just relied on my speed.”
Despite being the heavy underdog, Paalam showed he couldn’t care any less about the odds right from the opening bell and just fought the way only he could—with unrelenting aggression
Both fighters were willing to engage right away but it was Paalam who got the better of the exchanges en route to a split decision win after the fight was stopped at the 1:40 mark of the second round due to a clash of heads.
“I didn’t mind the punches that I took, I just wanted to win. My opponent was also good and he really has the experience. They said the fight was 50/50 but I just believed in myself and I listened to my coaches,” he said.
“He (Zoirov) was eager to get the first round, but coach Ronald (Chavez) said I need to win the first round to put the pressure on them,” Paalam added. “He started to pressure me after I got the first round and my coaches told me to just bring out my game.”
Paalam did just that and Zoirov, who is also the reigning world champion in the division and undefeated as a pro at 3-0, wasn’t ready for it.
“First of all, I thank God for giving me the strength to win this fight. I also thank my coaches for trusting me, and Abap and PSC. Thank you as well to all those supporting me and all of the Filipino athletes,” said Paalam, who clashes with hometown bet Ryomei Tanaka in the semifinals on Thursday.
The 23-year-old Cagayan de Oro native is now sure of a medal, joining two other Filipino pugs in Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial, who are also guaranteed a podium finish.
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