Using his speed and smarts to the hilt, Paalam turned the head of his Japanese rival into a virtual target practice as he continuously landed 1-2 combinations and darted away from trouble to fashion out an imposing 5-0 victory, his fourth impressive win these pandemic Olympics.
“Yung strategy na ginawa ko, idinaan ko sa bilis. Ginawa ko kung ano talaga ‘yung laro ko. Kailangang pag-isipan mo ‘yung mga galaw mo tsaka tiwala sa sarili. Kaya nga po kami nagte-training, nage-ensayo para po dito,” said Paalam.
The 23-year-old pride of Cagayan de Oro indeed proved to be a blur for his overmatched Japanese foe, who in the middle of the second round hit Paalam at the back of his head, but the Filipino wisely hung to the Japanese to get his second wind.
“Noong second round, natamaan po ako doon. Kita niyo naman sa second round, binatukan ako, kaya hinawakan ko na talaga ‘yung paa niya para makapahinga ng kaunti,” said Paalam, adding the referee may have not seen the illegal strike because of the swift exchanges.
The silver that is assured Paalam is the third medal of the boxing team in these games, counting the silver of featherweight Nesthy Petecio and the bronze of Eumir Marcial, who 30 minutes later dropped a close split decision loss to Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine.
Paalam tries to upgrade the color of his medal on Saturday as he shoots for the gold against Great Britain’s Galal Yafai, who 15 minutes earlier edged Paalam’s 2020 Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament tormentor Saken Bibossinov of Kazakhstan in a close 3-2 split decision win.
“Hinihiling ko lang po sa kapwa ko Pilipino na ipagdasal ako. Gagawin ko ang best ko, kasi hindi ko naman hawak ‘yung desisyon, tsaka ‘yung kalaban ko kasi magaling din. Tiwala lang sa sarili. Sana ibigay na sa atin ng Panginoon,” said Paalam, who sent a “shout out” to Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno, one of his biggest supporters.
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