Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Carlo Paalam marked his men’s bantamweight debut with a 4-1 split decision victory over Makhmud Sabyrkhan of Kazakhstan in their 2022 ASBC Asian Elite Men & Women Boxing Championships final encounter in Amman, Jordan on Saturday, November 12.
The 24-year-old Carlo Paalam, who hails from Cagayan de Oro City, mustered the last ounce of his energy to survive the heavy-hitting Sabyrkhan in the third and final round to secure the -54kg class title. The latter was a silver medalist in the 2021 World Championships held in Belgrade, Serbia.
It can be recalled that Paalam competed in the flyweight division last year at the Tokyo Olympics where he snatched the silver. The ASBC was his major first tournament after his Olympiad stint.
He arranged a title showdown with Sabyrkhan after demolishing No. 2 Sanzhai Seidakmatov of Kyrgyzstan in a 5-0 shutout win in the semifinals.
Paalam nearly lost the bout when he got too cocky following his opening round dominance as the Kazakh engaged him in a brawl. This enabled Sabyrkhan to grab the second round but the Filipino unleashed combinations to make up for his slow legwork to seal the victory.
The Filipino boxer earned the nod of three judges who identically scored the match, 29-28, and another judge also favored him (30-27), while one judge gave Sabyrkhan the win, 29-28.
Social media on Paalam
In a Facebook live, he said: “Isa pong karangalan na makamit ang gintong medalya sa (It’s a great honor to win the gold medal in the) Asian Boxing Confederation Elite Boxing Championships 2022.”
He said he didn’t expect to win as he was still adjusting to his new weight, which is two kilograms heavier than his original weight.
“Unang-una di ko alam kung ano ang galaw ko, excited akong makita ano ang galaw ko. Di ko alam anong gawin sa taas ng ring. Umakyat ako ng timbang, dun nag-adjust ako. Di ko alam paano dalhin sarili ko sa taas ng ring kasi mabibigat at magagaling sila (At first, I didn’t know what my move was, I was excited to see what my move was. Not sure what to do at the top of the ring. I gained weight, I adjusted. I don’t know how to bring myself to the top of the ring as the other boxers were heavy and good),” he said.
Losing weight was difficult, he said. He gained weight after the Tokyo Olympics so entering in the 54kg was a wise decision but he still had to reduce to make the weight.
Paalam said, “Sobrang pagod, di makatulog kasi gutom. Ilang buwan di nakakain ng rice. Diet talaga. Mahirap magbawas ng timbang, lalo na sa timbang ko, lalo na lumaki ako. Hirap talaga ang mag lose weight, pagod at gutom. Kinakaya para sa pamilya, bayan, sarili, at coaches na magbigay karangalan (It’s very tiring, can’t sleep because I was hungry. I haven’t eaten rice in a few months. Diet really. It’s hard to lose weight, especially at my weight since I’ve gotten bigger. It’s really hard to lose weight, tired and hungry. And I was able to endure to give honor for my family, country, self, and coaches).”
Thanks for supporters
He earlier thanked those who supported and prayed for him from the start of the tournament until bagging the gold.
“Nais ko pong pasamalatan ang mga taong ito sa pagtiwala at gabay sa aking laro. Maraming salamat sa lahat po ng voaches ko po sa Philippine team, Philippne Navy team, PSC family at ABAP, and CDO family maraming salamat po! Sa mga pamilya ko po, maraming salamat, Paalam family, Burlat family at Padilla family! Higit sa lahat sa maybahay ko na si Earlshane Padilla-Paalam, love, salamat (I want to thank these people for trusting and guiding my game. Thank you very much to all my coaches in the Philippine team, to the Philippine Navy team, PSC family, ABAP, and CDO family, thank you very much! To my families – thank you very much, Paalam family, Burlat family, and Padilla family! Above all to my wife, Earlshane Padilla-Paalam, love, thank you!),” he wrote.
He also said, “Naniniwala po ako na magpursige at tiwala lage sa sarili. At ang pinaka importante tiwala at pananampalataya sa Panginoon (I believe in persevering and trusting yourself. And the most important trust and faith in the Lord).”
Carlo Paalam congrats Nesthy Petecio
Paalam also congratulated his teammates who saw action in ASBC, particularly, Nesthy Petecio and Hergie Bacyadan, for winning bronzes in the tournament.
“Patuloy po nating itaas ang bandera ng Pilipinas sa ating susunod na laban (Let’s continue to raise the Philippine flag in our next tournament),” he added.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. praised Paalam’s feat as he wrote on his official Facebook page, “Tayo ay nagbibigay pugay sa isa na namang Pilipinong nagtaas ng ating bandila at nagbibigay ng pagkilala sa kakayahan ng atletang Pilipino sa buong mundo.
Mabuhay ka, Carlo Paalam, sa gintong medalyang iyong napanalunan sa men’s bantamweight 54kg ng ASBC Asian Elite Men and Women Championship na ginanap sa Amman, Jordan (We pay tribute to another Filipino who raised our flag and give recognition to the ability of the Filipino athlete all over the world. Long live, Carlo Paalam, for the gold medal you won in the men’s bantamweight 54kg of the ASBC Asian Elite Men and Women Championship held in Amman, Jordan)!”
“Sana ay magsilbing inspirasyon ang medalyang ito sa maraming Pilipinong nangangarap din na makapagbigay ng parangal sa ating mahal na bayan (I hope this medal will serve as an inspiration to many Filipinos who also dream of giving an award to our beloved country,” the President also said.