Carlo Paalam joined Eumir Marcial in the quarterfinals of the 19th Asian Games boxing competitions, having defeated Uulu Munarbek Seiitbek of Kyrgyzstan in a hard-fought battle at the Hangzhou gymnasium on a cloudy Saturday.
The 25-year-old Paalam, who won a silver medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, needed a strong finishing kick to secure the hard-earned 4-1 victory in the Round-of-16 of the men’s 54 kg class.
Paalam had to overcome the height and reach advantage of the Kyrgyzstan fighter to advance to the next round.
“Matalino siyang maglaro. Ginamit niya ang kanyang tangkad at karanasan,” the Filipino said of his lanky opponent, a bronze medalist in this year’s World Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. “Dun kami nag-base sa skill at sa style. Matalino talaga.”
Paalam became only the second Filipino fighter after Marcial to reach the Final Eight as they both strive to carry the country’s hopes of securing its first-ever Asiad gold in 13 years and earning a direct qualification to the Paris Olympics next year.
The path to the top becomes more challenging for the native of Bukidnon from hereon, as he is set to face reigning world champion Abdumalik Khalokov of Uzbekistan in the next round.
Khalokov, 23, won by unanimous decision against Nguyen Van Duong of Vietnam, 5-0, in the other Round-of-16 match.
The Uzbek secured 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 scheduled for Tuesday.