Paalam one win away from Philippines' first Olympic boxing gold

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Filipino boxer Carlo Paalam
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Flyweight Carlo Paalam is one victory away from winning a first Olympic gold medal for the Philippines in boxing after his semi-final masterclass on Thursday in Tokyo.

But there is to be no double Filipino gold after compatriot Eumir Marcial was edged out on split points in his middleweight semi.

The Philippines has a proud boxing history and boasts one of the all-time greats in Manny Pacquiao.

But the country has never won Olympic boxing gold -- Paalam could be the man to change that, even if it is something that the 23-year-old refuses to talk about for now.

"I cannot answer that question now, sorry," he replied, asked by AFP what it would mean to win gold, a first in boxing and only the second ever for the Philippines at the Olympics in any sport.

"I have got the final to think about, which will be a tough fight."

Paalam, who sank to his knees and screamed when victory was announced in his semi-final, faces Britain's Galal Yafai in the final on Saturday.

At Kokugikan Arena, which is usually home to Japan's national sport, sumo, Paalam outboxed home fighter Ryomei Tanaka in a unanimous points win.

Paalam was ahead on the judges' scorecards after the first two rounds -- they are displayed on screens to make the scoring more transparent -- and had Japan's Tanaka chasing shadows and missing wildly with his shots at times.

There was disappointment however for Marcial, a narrow loser to Ukraine's Oleksandr Khyzhniak. Marcial, 25, will take home bronze.

"We've been dreaming of this since I was young and now I'm here," he said.

"I represent the Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics. I win the bronze medal. I'm so proud of myself."

The Philippines have enjoyed a breakthrough in boxing at Olympic level in Tokyo.

On Tuesday, Nesthy Petecio had to settle for silver after she was beaten by Japan's Sena Irie in the final of the women's featherweight event.

But the 29-year-old still became the first woman from the Philippines to win an Olympic boxing medal.

pst/jc

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