After the 2 heartbreaking losses absorbed by Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial, the country pinned its last hope on Carlo Paalam to give us our first-ever boxing gold in the Olympics. And coming at the heels of Hidilyn Diaz’ scintillating performance in nailing down the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the Philippines, hopes were high for a second golden moment at the podium.
But things were not meant to be. Carlo gave it his all, but a furious first-round flurry, leading to a knockdown, would frustrate us once again, sending Carlo crashing out of his – and our country’s – gold medal quest. Despite the loss, Carlo made our country proud, as he gifted the Philippines with only its 2nd silver medal in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Carlo Paalam, that diminutive dervish from Cagayan de Oro, will have to say a momentary goodbye to his Olympic aspirations.
But what a gallant stand Carlo gave!
Carlo’s bout against Great Britain’s Galal Yafai was certainly full of action and drama. The stylish Carlo was pitted against a swarmer; a volume puncher who loved to engage up close. Similar to Oleksandr Khyzhniak in his now celebrated slam-bang fight against Eumir Marcial, Galal loved to push forward like a mindless robot, totally oblivious of the bombs coming from the opposite direction.
Unfortunately for Carlo, he got tagged with a wicked combination early in the 1st round, sending him to the canvas. Sensing that he was losing on points, Carlo started engaging Galal in a slugfest, in an effort to erase the knockdown. Carlo became impatient. He allowed himself to be suckered into fighting the style of fight his opponent wanted. He chose to fight fire with fire, instead of reverting back to his style, which was to fizzle out the fire with ice. Instead of dancing, instead of moving from side to side, instead of picking his battles, he chose to fight toe-to-toe, in total disregard of his original game-plan.
Carlo’s switch in strategy only served to benefit the brawling Galal. Carlo would occasionally come up with good combinations to spice up the exchanges; but the pace, the fighting space, the fighting style simply favored Galal. Instead of moving like a matador in a bullfighting spectacle, he was now simply another plodding bull stalking a bigger, badder bull.
In the end, it was Paalam saying goodbye to his dream of an Olympic gold. Still, let it be known that we are all proud of Carlo Paalam. Carlo gave us so much to look forward to, and hope for. He gave us a brief respite from all the drudgeries and anxieties brought about by this cruel COVID crisis. He gained the admiration and respect in the eyes of many, and he inspired us in more ways than he knows. Carlo may have lost the Olympic gold, but there will be other opportunities in the future for him.
We salute you, Carlo, for your gallant efforts, even as we look forward to seeing you bring honor to the country and more victories in the competitions to come. Let this not be the end, but simply the beginning of more successes ahead for you, Carlo.