Carlo Paalam off to strong start in Asian Games
HANGZHOU, China—Carlo Paalam smartly evaded a much taller rival in Jordan’s Mohammad Jajeh Abu and threw accurate hits that mattered to rule his opening bout at the 19th Asian Games.
The Tokyo Olympics boxing silver medalist received the approval from the judges after three rounds in a unanimous 5-0 victory in the men’s 57kg round of 32 at the Hangzhou Gymnasium here.
“He was way much taller than me, so I just stuck to the game plan that the coaching staff had drawn for me,” said Paalam in Filipino, whose chief aim is a return ticket to the Olympics next year in Paris.
The finalists in each of the weight divisions in Asiad boxing will clinch spots to the quadrennial Summer Games at the glitzy French capital.
Paalam, 25, nailed his Olympic silver in Tokyo 2021 as a flyweight (51kg) and snared a bronze in the previous Asian Games in 2018 held in Indonesia in the same weight class.
With the flyweight division shelved in the Paris program, Paalam has no recourse but to move up to a heavier and unfamiliar class.
“This is the first time I fought in this division, so I expect taller opponents with longer reach in my next fights. I have to play smart and not be overly aggressive,” said Paalam.
He saw a rare chance near the end of the first round and got inside with a crunching smack to Abu’s midsection.
The pride of Talakag, Bukidnon kept his distance again in the second round, but delivered a precise combo to the head and body in a brief exchange with 37 ticks left.
Paalam then weaved out of harm’s way in the final round as Abu, his back against the wall, impatiently went for a knockout to erase his deficit.
“Four more fights to go. A gold here will be nice, but my real goal is the Olympics,” said Paalam.