Carlo Paalam guaranteed the Philippines another Olympics medal after crushing Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan via majority decision and entered the semifinals on Tuesday in the men's flyweight quarterfinals bout at the Kokugikan Arena.

/ 4 August 2021

Paalam’s win is now assured at least a bronze medal, giving the Philippines the most number of medals in a single Olympic campaign since the 1932 Los Angeles Games where three Filipino athletes landed on the podium.

A huge underdog against Zoirov, the gold medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2019 world champion, Paalam did not bother as he took down the boxing champion in two rounds with a split decision wherein four judges scored 20-18 in favor of Paalam, while the other judge scored a 19-19 tie. 

The clash was halted after a ringside doctor called a halt to the bout at 1:16 of the second round after both fighters suffered cuts from a clash of heads.

Paalam suffered a cut on the forehead and Zoirov was wounded above his left eye.

After the fight was stopped, Paalam fell down to his knees as emotions were dripping over while Zoirov was so frustrated by the decision that he left the ring in a huff after the decision was announced.

Magaling talaga eh, magaling, mabilis din. At saka, nautakan ko rin lang talaga siya. Ayun talaga, talino at tiwala sa sarili at sa Panginoon talaga po. Siya po ang nagbigay ng panalong ito po,” Paalam told Paolo del Rosario of Cignal TV. 

“He’s the best opponent, I’m so happy I’m a bronze medalist,” he expressed.

Paalam showed his aggressiveness in the first round, as he hit Zoirov with clean shots in the first round, a right to the face at the 2:01 mark of the first round and another hit on the face with his left 31 seconds later.

Paalam continued to charge until the match was stopped in the second bout. 

Paalam now moves on to the semifinals of the flyweight tournament, wherein he will face hometown bet Ryomei Tanaka on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.