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Paalam says it?ll be gold next time


PhilBoxing.com




Cagayan de Oro?s Carlo Paalam said he was not in his right mind in losing to eventual gold medalist Sachin of India in their recent AIBA World Youth Championships lightflyweight semifinal bout in St. Petersburg, Russia, and vowed the outcome will be different if they ever meet again.

Paalam, 18, settled for the bronze medal and earned a reward of P100,000 from ABAP president Ricky Vargas. On the way to the semifinals, Paalam beat Colombia?s Pedro Alarcon, 5-0, Ireland?s Jordan Moore, 4-1 and Russia?s Volodya Mnatsakanyan, 4-0. What unsettled Paalam?s mind was losing $200 of his $420 allowance to a thief before the match against Sachin. The money was stolen from his hotel room.

?I was stressed,? said Paalam in Pilipino. ?I left the money in my bag but when I went back to my hotel room after beating Mnatsakanyan, it was gone. I felt really bad because I wanted to give it to my family.? Paalam said despite the stress, he fought Sachin on even terms until the last round. ?I thought I was ahead,? he continued. ?But my mind was not on the fight. Sachin is a good boxer but if we face off again, I know I?ll beat him.?

Coach Ronald Chavez, who accompanied ABAP?s delegation of five fighters with another coach Elias Recaido to St. Petersburg, said Paalam will learn from this experience. ?Masipag sumuntok,? said Chavez, a 1992 Olympian. ?Mataas ang boxing IQ ng bata. Madaling matuto.? Chavez noted that Paalam?s style is flexible and he adjusts easily to instructions from the corner. After the win over Mnatsakanyan, Russian fans applauded Paalam for defying the odds to defeat the hometowner.

ABAP executive director Ed Picson said Paalam has a bright future. ?Since he was 10 years old, Paalam was already in the pool of prospects of Mayor Oca (Moreno),? he said. ?Mayor kept telling us to watch this boy, that Carlo would go far. He?s shifty. He has speed and power. It?s too bad he wasn?t himself against Sachin. Coach Elias told me Carlo would?ve easily beaten Cuba?s Jorge Grinan if they met in the final.? As it turned out, Sachin outpointed Grinan for the 49-kilogram gold.

Chavez said Sachin was taller than Paalam by about three inches and enjoyed a longer reach. ?It?s hard to penetrate Sachin?s defense because he fights from a distance,? he said in Pilipino. ?Like Carlo, Sachin also throws a lot of punches. Sachin?s advantage is his length. If Carlo was more focused, maybe, he would?ve won.?

Picson said the usual practice is the fighters going abroad receive half of their allowance before leaving. ?They usually give it to their families,? he said. ?So in Carlo?s case, he left $220 behind. He was given the balance of $200 when he landed in Russia.?

But Paalam?s consolation was the bonus he received from Vargas. The sixth of eight children, Paalam said he?s giving the money to his parents Pio, 48, and Jocelyn, 42. His father, two sisters and a brother work in a bakery. His mother keeps house.

?We live in a squatter area,? said Paalam in Pilipino. ?All eight of us children and our parents live in a small place, about 50 square meters. I sleep on a sofa. I?m giving my bonus to my parents so we can make our house a little better.?

Picson said Paalam is definitely Olympic material. ?He?ll be in contention for our team in the Southeast Asian Games this year but he has to prove himself in the eliminations and boxoffs,? said Picson. ?We?ve got a deep pool in his class. Rogen Ladon brought back a silver in the lightflyweight division in the last SEA Games so he?ll want to get a gold next time.?

When Paalam claimed his bonus, Vargas reminded him not to lose focus on his education. Paalam is a Grade 11 student at the University of Baguio. ?While we realize his potential as a boxer, Mr. Vargas wants Carlo to appreciate the importance of education,? said Picson. ?Carlo is a soft-spoken kid, hardly speaks. He?s disciplined, he easily learns from his coaches. Mr. Vargas told him to stay focused on his boxing and studies, to avoid distractions. Carlo is in Baguio with our training pool so he?s able to concentrate 100 percent on boxing and school.?

Paalam was joined in St. Petersburg by flyweight Mark Lumbab, bantamweight Jhon Patrick Cagumay, lightweight Ranjo Napoles and lightwelterweight Ronald Chavez, Jr. Lumbab, Cagumay and Napoles were eliminated in their first bouts while Chavez beat Hungary?s Karoly Botos, 3-2, before bowing to Monaco?s lone entry Hugo Micallef, 5-0. Lumbab lost to Australia?s Jack Bowen, 4-1. Cagumay was defeated by England?s Charles Frankham, 5-0 while Napoles was blanked by Ireland?s Patrick Donovan, 5-0.

Photo: Carlo Paalam (R) wins over Tuan Mohd Faizal of Malaysia during the ASBC Asian Confederation Youth Boxing Championships in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan on May 1 to 8, 2016.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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