Carlo Paalam boxing qualification Paris Olympics

FILE–The Philippines’ Carlo Paalam reacts after winning against Japan’s Ryomei Tanaka (red) after their men’s fly (48-52kg) semifinal boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on August 5, 2021. (Photo by UESLEI MARCELINO / POOL / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines–Carlo Paalam juiced up Philippine boxing’s campaign with a clear victory in his opening bout at the second World Qualification Tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, the last qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Tokyo Olympics silver medalist rained a barrage of accurate punches that connected en route to a unanimous decision over Alexei Lagkazasvili of Greece in the round of 64 of the men’s 57kg where Paalam needs four more wins for a trip to the French capital.

Only three Olympic slots have been allocated in Paalam’s division in this tournament. The finalists will automatically earn them while the losing semifinalists go at each other’s neck in a box off to determine the last qualifier.

READ: Paris or bust as Carlo Paalam takes last Olympic shot

After all five judges saw it 30-27 for Paalam, he moved on to the round of 32 on May 28 where Turkmenistan’s Shukur Ovezov awaits.

Paalam lost to Ovezov in the round of 16 of the first World Qualification Tournament in Busto Arsizio, Italy two months ago.

The Filipino pugilist didn’t have much choice but to surrender following an injured shoulder after Mexico’s Andrey Bonilla slammed Paalam to the canvas in their round of 32 meeting.

READ: Carlo Paalam vows to ‘come back stronger’ to make Paris Olympics

Three more Filipino Olympic aspirants—Rogen Ladon, Criztian Laurente and Hergie Bacyadan—are likewise hoping to join qualified boxers Eumir Marcial (men’s 80kg), Nesthy Petecio (women’s 57kg) and Aira Villegas (women’s 50kg) in Paris this July.

Ladon, the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympian, faces Spain’s Rafael Serrano Lozano in his opening bout in the men’s 51kg on Saturday while Laurente, a professional fighter who was recalled to the national team, takes on Kazakhstan’s Bazarbay Uulu Mukhammedsabyr on Sunday in the men’s 63.5kg.

Bacyadan, a world champion in the Vietnamese sport of vovinam, meets Spain’s Dunia Martinez on Monday in the women’s 75kg.

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