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NO GOODBYE — Paalam survives game foe, makes quarters

CARLO Paalam batters Seiitbek Munarbek-Uulu of Kyrgyzstan to advance to the quarterfinals of the men’s 57-kilogram boxing event of the 19th Asian Games on Saturday at the Hangzhou Gymnasium. | Photograph courtesy of POC-PSC POOL

HANGZHOU, China — Carlo Paalam delivered a strong start and a stronger finish to pull the rug from under Seiitbek Munarbek-Uulu of Kyrgyzstan in the Round of 16 of the men’s 57-kilogram boxing event on Saturday at the Hangzhou Gymnasium here.

Ranged against a taller, longer foe, the 25-year-old Paalam completed a scary 4-1 victory over Munarbek-Uulu to join his fellow Olympian Eumir Marcial in the quarterfinals of this prestigious quadrennial meet.

Paalam, a silver medalist in the Tokyo Olympics, said he started strong but the size and length of the lanky Munarbek-Uulu, a bronze medalist in the previous World Championships in Uzbekistan, made it difficult for him to essay a convincing victory.

“He played smart. When he knew that he was already trailing, he used his height and length in attacking me,” said Paalam, saying that his coaches, Ronald Chavez and Don Abnett, based his game plan with the skills and style of his opponent.

“We’re basing our game plan on his skills and style. He was really smart and very experienced. Actually, everybody in this division is smart and experienced.”

Chavez said it wasn’t an easy fight as Paalam is the smallest in the division after organizers scrapped his weight category of 54 kgs.

“He is the smallest in this division because he just climbed from 54 to 57. Other fighters, like that from India, came from 60 but went down to 57,” Chavez, a former Asian champion who represented the country in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, said.

“But this boxer from Kyrgyzstan is a legitimate campaigner in the 57-kg event. He played in the World Championships in this division, I think he won the bronze medal there.”

Paalam said the battle is still far from over as he needs three more wins to bring home his first Asian Games gold medal and two more victories to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

And with the likes of Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno and John Marvin already out, the pressure is now on for Paalam and Marcial to deliver for the vaunted boxing squad, which has yet to taste a boxing gold medal since Rey Saludar ruled the men’s 52-kg event of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010.

“There’s pressure, yes,” said Paalam, who will be battling reigning world champion Abdumalik Khalokov of Uzbekistan in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

“But we will work hard in training and study the Uzbek. It’s not going to be easy but we’ll do our best to beat him.”

In triathlon, Southeast Asian Games champion Kim Mangrobang and Raven Faith Alcoseba failed to land on the podium of the women’s individual event.

The 24-year-old Mangrobang, a three-time SEA Games gold medalist, clocked two hours and 13:49 minutes before clearing the 1,500-meter swim, 40-km bike, and 10-km run at the Chun’an Jieshou Sports Centre Triathlon Course.

Her time was slower than his clocking when she finished seventh in the Jakarta edition of the Asian Games with 2:05:20 and ninth in the Incheon edition with 2:13:18.

Asian Games rookie Alcoseba, meanwhile, crossed the finish line in 2:25:05 to finish 17th out of 18 finishers of the 21-woman field.

In weightlifting, Rosegie Ramos also fell by the wayside as she lifted a total of 190 kgs to finish fifth in the women’s 49-kg event.

Ramos tallied 87 kgs in snatch and 103 kgs in clean and jerk to finish behind Songgum Ri of North Korea, Jiang Huihua of China, and Thanyathon Sukcharoen of Thailand, who finished with 216 kgs, 213 kgs, and 199 kgs, for the gold, silver and bronze medal finishes, respectively.

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