After sticking to process, Carlo Paalam vows to let loose in SEA Games final
PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA—Tokyo Olympian Carlo Paalam carefully navigated his busy schedule in the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games with a very meticulous process. He kept staying calm and collected all the way to booking a spot in the final of the men’s boxing competitions.
“Now that I’m at the end of this process, expect me to go all out in that match,” Paalam said on Thursday after brushing off Timor-Leste’s Edegar Foe da Silva, 5-0, in the men’s 54-kilogram semifinals on Thursday night.
He faces Indonesia’s Aldoms Suguro, who outclassed Vietnam’s Van An Tran, 5-0, in the gold medal match.
Paalam is trying to keep his focus on that final, even as bigger things loom for the Bukidnon-born boxer—including his chase of a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics, which will require him to slim down to his original fighting weight.
“You can never tell what could go wrong (in the finals). On my end, I just have to stay focused and aggressive throughout the fight,” said the 24-year-old Paalam.
Da Silva just couldn’t keep up with Paalam’s hand speed and brisk footwork, leaving him an easy target for the Filipino star.
The Olympic silver medalist is aspiring for a repeat of his 2019 SEA Games golden win with a victory in the finale.
“It would be great to win [gold in the SEA Games] again; it will be an added motivation for when I go into the qualifying tournament for the (2024 Paris) Olympics,” Paalam said.
The Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, in September is the first qualifier for Paris and Paalam will be entered in the 51-kg (flyweight) class, the same weight division where he won his Olympic silver in Tokyo.
“I will begin the work to slide to 51 after the SEA Games,” said Paalam, who defeated Cambodia’s Sao Rangsey in the preliminaries and Malaysia’s Daeloniel Delon Bong in the quarterfinals.
Also on Thursday, Paul Bascon knocked out Cambodia’s Touch Davit in the second round of their semifinals encounter to progress to the 60-kg finals versus Thailand’s Rujakran Juntrong, who defeated Malaysia’s Muhammad Johari, 5-0.
Paalam and Bascon will march to the finals with eight other Filipino boxers, including two-time defending champion Rogen Ladon (flyweight), Ian Clark Bautista (featherweight), John Marvin (light heavyweight) and Norlan Petecio (lightweight) in the men’s side.
Olympic silver medalists Nesthy Petecio (featherweight), Tokyo Olympian Irish Magno (flyweight) and Riza Pasuit (lightweight) will gun for golds in the women’s division. Norlan is the younger brother of Nesthy Petecio.
Only three of the 12 Filipino boxers sent here failed to make the finals, which will begin on Saturday starting with Ladon’s title defense against Thailand’s Thanarat Saengphet and Bautista’s duel with Indonesia’s Asri Udin.
Magno faces Jutamas Jitpong of Thailand also on Saturday, while Pasuit will fight Vietnam’s Thi Linh Ha.
In Sunday’s finals, Norlan Petecio enters the ring with Thailand’s Bunjong Sinsiri while John Marvin contends with another Thai in Weerapon Jongjoho before Nesthy meets Indonesia’s Ratna Sari Devi.
“Obviously, we’re happy to have nine boxers in the finals. But the job is not done yet and we have to stay focused as there’s a bigger challenge in the finals,” said Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines secretary general Marcus Jarwin Manalo.
Markus Tongco wasn’t as fortunate in the men’s 92-kg semifinal that capped the night at the Chroy Changvar Convention Hall here. The referee was forced to stop the fight in the second round and awarded the victory to Vietnam’s Manh Cuong Nguyen.
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