Olympian Carlo Paalam is back in business as he displayed his deadly form to book a split decision victory over Makhmud Sabykhan of Kazakhstan in the final of the ASBC Asian Elite Boxing Championships in Amman, Jordan late Saturday (Manila time).
The 24-year-old Paalam scored a 4-1 decision over his fancied foe to emerge with his first gold medal in the heavier bantamweight division.
It was Paalam’s first victory since clinching the silver medal in the flyweight division of the Summer Games in Tokyo last year.
But the journey to the gold medal wasn’t easy.
Before facing the top seed from Kazakhstan, Paalam beat Muhanov Dovlet of Turkmenistan in the Round of 16 before crushing Joosung Yoon of South Korea in the quarterfinals.
He also breezed past No. 2 seed Sanzhai Seidakmatov of Kyrgyzstan in the semifinals to book a final showdown with the 19-year-old Sabykhan, who is considered as a powerhouse in the junior ranks after winning the Asian titles in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Paalam said he was thankful for the support shown by the Filipinos in his first international event.
“Philippines, thank you for the support. We got the gold medal,” said Paalam, who is now fighting in the bantamweight division after Jogen Ladon reclaimed his spot in the flyweight class.
“It’s an honor to represent the Philippines at the ASBC Asian Elite Boxing Championship 2022 in Amman, Jordan. Thank you for this win.”
Paalam isn’t the only Filipino who will be flying home with an Asian medal.
Nesthy Petecio, his fellow Tokyo Olympics silver medalist, clinched the bronze medal in the women’s featherweight division while newcomer Hergie Bacyadan clinched the bronze medal in the women’s middleweight class.
Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines secretary general Marcus Manalo lauded the boxers’ achievement.
“Excellent performance by Carlo here at the Asian Boxing Championships,” Manalo said.
“It was his first time competing at 54kg, his first tournament after the Olympics, and had to go through the second seed in the semis and then the top seed in the finals.”
The youthful Manalo also expressed gratitude to those who contributed to the success of their participation, including Abap president Ed Picson.
“Congratulations also to Nesthy and Hergie for the solid performances here,” he said.
“Great job also by Coaches Don Abnett, Roel Velasco, Gerson Nietes, Reynaldo Galido and Mitchel Martinez for coming up with a sound tactical plan.”