Carlo Paalam joined Eumir Marcial in the quarterfinals of the 19th Asian Games boxing competitions, beating Uulu Munarbek Seiitbek of Kyrgyzstan in a back-and-forth fight at the Hangzhou gymnasium on Saturday, Sept. 30.
The 25-year-old Paalam, winner of a silver medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, needed a strong finishing kick to pull off the hard-earned 4-1 win in the Round-of-16 of the men’s 54 kg class.
Paalam had to overcome the Kyrgyztan fighter’s height and reach to advance in the next round.
“Matalino ring maglaro. Ginagamit yung tangkad at experience niya,” the Filipino said of his lanky opponent, a bronze medal winner in this year’s World Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. “Dun kami nagbe-based sa skill at sa style. Matalino talaga.”
Paalam became only the second Filipino fighter after Marcial to reach the Final Eight as the two try to carry the country’s hopes of earning a first ever Asiad gold in 13 years and earn an outright passage to the Paris Olympics next year.
The path towards the top gets tough for the native of Bukidnon from hereon as reigning world champion Abdumalik Khalokov of Uzbekistan will be next for Paalam.
Khalokov, 23, won by unanimous decision against Nguyen Van Duong of Vietnam, 5-0, in the other Round-of-16 match.
The Uzbek bagged the 57 kg gold in the Tashkent World Championship and the Asian Championship in Amman, Jordan last year.
“Halos lahat sila sa division namin malalakas,” said Paalam.
The quarterfinal round is set on Tuesday, Oct. 3.