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FILIPINO boxers Carlo Paalam and Eumir Felix D. Marcial ended up in different poles in semifinal boxing action in the Tokyo Games on Thursday.
Flyweight Mr. Paalam booked a spot in the gold medal match after defeating hometown bet Ryomei Tanaka by unanimous decision while middleweight Marcial lost to Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine by split decision in a close fight in bouts held at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
Looking to barge into the gold medal match, 23-year-old Mr. Paalam had it rough and tough early against Mr. Tanaka but stayed the course en route to the convincing win.
He came out aggressive right out of the opening bell, but was challenged by the Japanese. Eventually, he got the opening he needed to land clear combinations to earn him the opening round.
In the second, the Philippine bet kept the pressure on his opponent, tagging Mr. Tanaka with solid shots to the head and body.
While already ahead in the scorecard, Mr. Paalam showed no letup, even landing a solid blow that nearly sent Mr. Tanaka to the canvas.
Four judges scored the fight, 30-27, with one seeing it, 29-28.
He is set to face in the finals on Aug. 7 Galal Yafai of Great Britain.
Mr. Marcial, meanwhile, fought gallantly, even enduring a gash on the forehead, in a highly intense three-round showdown.
Twenty-five-year-old Mr. Marcial stood toe-to-toe and exchanged heavy blows with Mr. Khyzhniak throughout the contest, but in the end could not get the nod of all the judges.
The score went 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 for Mr. Khyzhniak and 29-28, 29-28, for Mr. Marcial.
For landing in the semifinals, Mr. Marcial is already assured of a bronze medal, which will be the fourth bronze from boxing for the Philippines in history, after those of Jose Villanueva (1932), Leopoldo Serantes (1988) and Roel Velasco (1992).
Mr. Marcial, for his efforts, is set to receive at least P7 million in cash incentives from the government and private sector. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo