Carlo Paalam ousts champ Zoirov, secures Olympic medal
MANILA, Philippines–Carlo Paalam pulled off a mighty upset after knocking Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov off his perch to become the Philippines’ latest medalist at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
Paalam punched his way through the men’s flyweight semifinal via split decision after the fight was stopped at the 1:40 mark of the second round following a clash of heads.
“I did not mind the punches I took, I just really wanted to win. My opponent is really good and he has experience too. They said the chances were 50/50, but I just trusted myself and I listened to my coaches,” Paalam said in Filipino.
Paalam’s stunning win guaranteed himself at least a bronze medal, pushing the Philippines’ medal total to four which is the country’s most ever in a single Olympic campaign.
Four judges favored Paalam in the scorecards while the other had it a draw.
— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) August 3, 2021
Zoirov, who dominated the division in Rio 2016 to win the gold for Uzbekistan, entered the bout against Paalam with a pair of 5-0 decisions in his first two fights.
But a relentless Paalam was clearly unfazed as he brought the fight to Zoirov, who also has a gold in the 2019 World Championships in his colorful resumé, from the opening bell.
Paalam battles for a spot in the gold medal match against hometown bet Ryomei Tanaka on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
The 27-year-old Tanaka, whose brother Kosei is a three-division world champion, beat Colombia’s Yuberjen Martinez Rivas in the semifinals, 4-1.
The Bukidnon-born Paalam joined Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial in securing a medal for the country’s boxing team, which is in the middle of its best Olympic run yet after suffering a string of heartbreaks and disappointments in the Summer Games.
Petecio fights for the women’s featherweight gold later at 12:05 p.m. against familiar hometown bet Sena Irie while Marcial shoots for a spot in the final on Thursday against Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzhniak in the middleweight semifinal.