TOKYO — Carlo Paalam yielded to Great Britain’s Galal Yafai in the men’s flyweight final of boxing at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, settling for a silver medal that nevertheless made this edition of the Olympic Games the best ever for the Philippines.
Paalam was in his element but the British fighter had more surprises in his fists.
A four-punch combo Yafai capped with a textbook right jab-left straight finisher floored Paalam with one minute and 48 seconds remaining in the first round.
Although Paalam survived the round, he boxed dazed from the knockdown and allowed Yafai to pile up points while forcing the 23-year-old find from Cagayan de Oro City to play catch up.
Paalam got his wind back in the second round, but Yafai was still quick with his jabs and solid with his left straights to keep the Filipino at bay. All but one judge, from Peru, gave the second round to the British fighter, who at 28 packed more experience over the 23-year-old Paalam.
Paalam went for the big punch in the third round but to no avail. Yafai simply kept his distance and danced away from each time Paalam went for a knockout.
Despite the loss, the Philippines’ performance in Tokyo remains its best ever, thanks to Hidilyn Diaz’s conquest in women’s -55 kgs of weightlifting.
Paalam’s silver was the second for the Philippines—and in boxing—after Nesthy Petecio in women’s featherweight. Middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial settled for a bronze also in boxing.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa Panginoon sa pagbbigay ng lakas sa akin at naabot ko ang pangarap ko, first time kong nakalaro ng Olympics sa ganitong edad ko,” Paalam said. “Halos lahat ng mga magagaling nandito, mga second time Olympian, mga ilang taon nang naging Olympian … ako papasok pa lang.”
At 23, Paalam has a long future in boxing. But in the meantime, he said he will savor the silver medal that means more than an Olympic achievement.
“Itong medal na ito ay simbolo ng buhay ko. Isa akong mangangalakal at itong medalya ay gawa sa mga sirang gadget po,” he said. “Sa basura siya galing, kaya nai-connect ko po siya sa buhay ko.”
Paalam added: ‘Yan po ang pinanghugutan ko para makuha ko ito. Nagpapasalamat po talaga ako sa Panginoon kasi nabago po ang buhay ko dahil dito sa medalya na ito.”
Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines President Ricky Vargas praised all four Filipino boxers in Tokyo, including women’s flyweight Irish Magno, for their accomplishment.
“My gratitude to team ABAP—four boxers going home with two silvers and one bronze, we’re very proud of all of you,” Vargas said in a statement. “Sumbag Pinoy! Salamat sa lahat ng supporta PSC [Philippine Sports Commission], POC [Philippine Olympic Committee] at MVP Sports Foundation.
“Without your support, we could have not achieved this level of performance. Sana nandyan pa kayo in the future,” Vargas added.
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