Philippine boxer Paalam one win from historic Olympic gold

Tokyo (AFP) –


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

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

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.

In the flyweight category at Kokugikan Arena, which is usually home to Japan's national sport, sumo, Paalam outboxed home fighter Ryomei Tanaka in a unanimous points win in their semi-final.

The 23-year-old 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.

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

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

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.