MANILA, Philippines--It took two years, but Carlo Paalam earned his revenge against Malaysia's Mohd Redzuan Muhamad Faud.
The 21-year-old boxer clobbered his opponent in the men's light flyweight semifinals in Southeast Asian Games boxing, winning by unanimous decision for the gold medal match.
It was a reversal of their first meeting two years ago in Kuala Lumpur, when Paalam -- then a teenager competing in his first SEA Games -- suffered a controversial defeat. At the time, he said he had to accept the judges' decision, but vowed to come back stronger.
That was exactly what Paalam did when he faced Faud in the semis. He made a statement immediately, attacking the Malaysian right from the opening bell and forcing him to a standing 8-count. Faud never got into a rhythm, and Paalam peppered him with punches throughout three rounds to earn the clear win.
" 'Yun 'yung nagtalo sa akin sa Malaysia sa first SEA Games ko," Paalam said afterward. "Naluto ako, so bumawi ako dito."
"Sobrang saya, kasi siyempre, dito talaga, wala na talagang daya," he added. "Doon, nalaglag siya doon pero nanalo pa rin siya sa akin. So sobrang saya, siyempre."
"Pinakita ko talaga na iba 'yung nakalaban niya dati."
Paalam acknowledged that he was in tears after the loss to Faud in 2017, but he used the loss to fuel him. He wound up winning a bronze in the Asian Games last year, and is now on track for his first gold in the SEA Games.
"Sobrang may gigil ako, gusto kong bumawi talaga. Laking iyak ko doon sa laro ko sa Malaysia," he said. "Ganoon talaga, hindi namin hawak yung desisyon sa judges, so okay lang. Sabi ko nga, sikap pa ako sa training."
Paalam faces Indonesia's Kornelis Langu in the gold medal match.
"Step by step pa rin," said Paalam. "Proseso pa rin."
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