HUANGZHOU, China — Carlo Paalam has a mountain to climb before he gets assured of bringing home a medal in the boxing competition of the 19th Asian Games here.
The 23-year-old Olympian will battle dangerous Abdumalik Kholokov of Uzbekistan for a spot in the semifinals of the men’s 57-kilogram event on Tuesday at the Hangzhou Gymnasium here.
A victory by Paalam in his 7:30 p.m. quarterfinal encounter will not only assure him of at least a bronze medal but will also put him a win closer to an automatic slot in the Paris Olympics next year.
Already in the semifinals is Eumir Marcial, who flirted with disaster before surviving Weerapong Jongjoho of Thailand in the quarterfinals of the men’s 80-kg class on Wednesday.
He will battle Ahmad Shousoon of Syria in the semifinals with the winner advancing to the gold medal match and the Paris Olympics.
But all eyes will be on Paalam.
The pride of Bukidnon will be stacked against a rugged foe that won the gold medal in the World Championships in Tashkent this year and the Asian Championships in Amman last year.
The 23-year-old Kholokov is also 5-foot-9, way taller than the 5-foot-4 Paalam.
“Almost everybody in our division is good, everybody is already seasoned,” said Paalam, who made it to the quarterfinals after beating Seiitbek Uulu-Munarbek of Kyrgyzstan, the bronze medalist in the World Championships.
“The Uzbek whom I will face in the semifinals is also very good. He plays smart. But I will do everything to outsmart him.”
National boxing coach Ronald Chavez said he likes Paalam’s chances against Kholokov.