|Carlo Paalam kneels for joy after securing a gold medal match berth in his maiden Olympic stint. Reuters|
By Ozzy Alaba
MANILA (UPDATED) — Carlo Paalam will delay his Olympic sayonara to a later date yet again with his methodical win on Tuesday afternoon.
But this time, the cusp of golden glory is now at stake in his decision.
The Filipino boxer showed clinical prowess on premium, trouncing Japan's Ryomei Tanaka via unanimous decision to barge into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics men's flyweight finals at the Kokugikan Arena.
Displaying textbook boxing in the semifinals, Paalam released lethal flurries of blows and blocked the Tajimi native's aggression with perfect timing to get all five judges' nods, nabbing himself a once-in-a-lifetime shot for Olympiad gold.
The victory marked another historic feat as he became the first Filipino boxer to march in the gold medal match since Onyok Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
He also clinched the boxing squad's second silver, adding to Nesthy Petecio's silver plum in the women's feather last Tuesday and Eumir Marcial's bronze in the men's middle.
Carlo secured his semifinal slot by forcing a quarterfinal shocker over Uzbekistan's Shakhabidin Zoirov.
The one-time Olympian opened the bout with poise, repulsing the 27-year-old's volume hits with body shots of his own enough to gain the plugs of the five judges.
Paalam then shifted into his defensive antics and lunged on his foe on the right moment, landing strong rights and 1-2 combinations on the southpaw's head in the second frame to set up a one-sided demolition in the process.
And with his fully-heated arsenal, the blue-clad never looked back.
The 2019 SEA Games gold medalist served balanced attacks while maintaining his sturdy wall in the decide, then pounced on the groggy Tanaka with match-sealing hooks to snag the huge win as time expired.
Meanwhile, the three-weight world champion mounted a fightback scare when he puffed the Bukidnon-born fighter's pursuit on the second canto with masterful counterpunches.
But the orthodox's resilience was too much to handle for the five-foot-six, until he eventually failed to find his groove as time expired.
Carlo will face Great Britain's Galal Yafai in the finale this Saturday afternoon for a chance to nab the nation's first-ever boxing gold in the quadrennial meet.
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