okyo 2020 Olympics - Boxing - Men's Flyweight - Semifinal - Kokugikan Arena - Tokyo, Japan - August 5, 2021. Carlo Paalam of the Philippines bows after his fight against Ryomei Tanaka of Japan REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Flyweight Carlo Paalam put himself in contention for the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic boxing gold with a win over Japan’s Ryomei Tanaka, his speed and agility killing off the hosts’ chances of a second Tokyo boxing title.
When his victory was confirmed, a teary-eyed Paalam fell to his knees on the canvas and let out an ecstatic scream.
Asked about a gold medal, he said: “I won’t answer that for now, I still have good work left to do.”
Global boxing icon Manny Pacquiao Tweeted his support for his countryman.
“Fight for Gold, Carlo Paalam! We are rooting for you,” Pacquiao said.
Paalam will on Saturday fight Briton Galal Yafai who beat Saken Bibossinov of Kazakhstan in a thrilling semi-final.
A huge roar erupted from the British team in the spectator-less arena after Yafai’s win was announced.
“To be in an Olympic final is something I never thought I could do,” Yafai said. “It just goes to show, if you put in hard work, you reap the rewards.”
Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzhniak will face Brazilian Hebert Sousa in Saturday’s middleweight final, after his victory over Filipino Eumir Marcial and Sousa’s defeat of Russian Gleb Bakshi.
World and Pan-American champion Beatriz Ferreira is looking to win Brazil’s second-ever Olympic boxing gold and always looked on top in a scrappy fight with 40-year-old Mira Potkonen of Finland in the women’s lightweight contest.
Ferreira will meet Irish top seed Kellie Anne Harrington, who came through with an astute tactical performance against Thai Sudaporn Seesondee, switching stance between rounds to frustrate the tough-punching Thai before moving in quickly on the counter.
“I fought her back in 2018, it was a chess match then, it was a chess match today,” Harrington said.
Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Ed Osmond
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