Carlo Paalam keeps boxing march in motion amid teammates’ fall
The national boxing team took a huge blow to the chin when Nesthy Petecio, a silver medalist in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, was eliminated by a taller foe from the medal race on Saturday.
Another Olympic silver medalist, also faced with a rangier opponent, made sure his own bid would go on.
Carlo Paalam cut down Kyrgyzstan’s Uulu Munarbek Seiitbek to size in the 57-kilogram (kg) division of men’s boxing, hammering out a 4-1 victory to advance to the quarterfinals in the Asian Games here in Hangzhou, China.
“I expect my succeeding fights to be more difficult. Our division is filled with smart boxers who are taller than me,’’ said Paalam in Filipino.
So far, Paalam has dusted off taller foes with longer reach with ease, opening his bid here with a victory over the lanky Mohammed Jajeh Abu of Jordan.
It was Petecio who struggled with her opponent’s range, even if that opponent was quite familiar.
Perennial rival Lin Yu-ting, the long-armed Taiwanese that Petecio disposed of en route to a silver finish in the Tokyo Olympics, utilized her height and reach advantage to the hilt for a payback victory that sent the Filipino crashing out of the round of 16 in the women’s 57kg category.
Petecio thus lost her bid to qualify for the Paris Olympics outright and will now have to go through tougher world qualifiers to go for gold in the glitzy French capital next year.
“There will be changes in my training as we work on several things that need to be addressed,’’ said Petecio.
Paalam, who normally campaigns in a lighter category that was scrubbed off next year’s Olympic calendar, will have to deal with more foes who will easily outsize him in the tournament.
Uzbekistan’s Abdumalik Khalokov, a former world champion, dominated Vietnam’s Van Duong Nguyen, 5-0, arranging a quarterfinal clash with Paalam on Tuesday.
“I hope I can get past him too,” Paalam said. “I’m just thankful that I continue to be strong and healthy here.”
Paalam gained advantage in the first round after hitting Seiitbek with a straight and tagging the current world championships bronze medalist with a left.
Using his longer arms, Seiitbek next engaged Paalam in a thrilling exchange in the second round and came out on top with his aggressiveness.
But Paalam was more clever in the ring, moving from left to right and dropping a straight or a jab while evading Seiitbek’s reach.
“That was our strategy and worked until the end,’’ said national coach Ronald Chavez.
The 25-year-old pride of Talakag, Bukidnon, in Northern Mindanao, is a victory closer to a bronze medal and two wins away from nailing an Olympic berth.
“I can’t say what my chances are right now for the Olympics,” Paalam said. “I’m just focused on my next fight.”
Only the finalists in Paalam’s division will earn the trip to Paris.
Eumir Marcial also took a step closer to Paris late Friday night following a 5-0 conquest of Vietnam’s Manh Cuong Nguyen in the men’s 80kg round of 16 at Hangzhou Gymnasium.