It was the Philippines vs Great Britain in the Tokyo Olympics men’s flyweight final, and after a fun back-and-forth scrap it was the Brit who went home with a gold medal.
Britain’s Galal Yafai scored a quick and early knockdown against Carlo Paalam in the opening moments, but the Filipino boxer came back strong and still managed to make it a competitive and entertaining contest. Paalam won the third round, but taking the first and a close second round was enough for Yafai to win a split decision.
Four judges had it 29-28 for Yafai, while one had it for Paalam with 29-28.
Prior to this final match, both of these boxers scored massive upsets over the tournament favorites. Yafai, who also has two brothers that are former pro-boxing champs, beat former world champ Yosvany Veitia of Cuba as part of his five wins that ended with a gold medal.
Paalam, who is still just 23-years-old, had four wins in his first Olympiad, including an upset over reigning world and Olympic champion Shakobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan.
Great Britain has a decorated Olympic history in the sport, but Yafai was not only their first boxing gold medalist in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, he also becomes just the first Brit to take gold from the men’s flyweight division in 65 years. The UK, which sent 11 boxers, will end up with a nice medal haul: Yafai’s gold, plus two silvers, and two bronze medals.
While the Philippines will have to wait a little longer for their first ever boxing gold, Paalam’s silver medal still caps the country’s historic Olympic run that saw them defy expectations and score big wins over amateur boxing powerhouses. Apart from Paalam, Nesthy Petecio took home silver at women’s featherweight, while Eumir Marcial got bronze at middleweight.
The Philippines sent just four boxers, and will now be going home with three medals — the highest total ever in their almost century long participation in the Olympics.