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Like clockwork, workforce readying Carlo Paalam for last

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Japan's Ryomei Tanaka (red) and Philippines' Carlo Paalam fight during their men's fly (48-52kg) semi-final boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on August 5, 2021. (

Japan’s Ryomei Tanaka (red) and Philippines’ Carlo Paalam fight during their men’s fly (48-52kg) semi-final boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on August 5, 2021. (Photo by UESLEI MARCELINO / POOL / AFP)

TOKYO—From behind the scenes, the Philippine boxing team is working down to very precise details to make sure Carlo Paalam will be in his finest, fittest form when he climbs the ring Saturday against Great Britain’s Galal Yafai for the featherweight gold in the men’s boxing event of the Tokyo Olympics.

Don Abnett has put together a game plan based on videos of Yafai while the rest of the coaching staff, composed of Ronald Chavez, Reynaldo Galido and Elmer Pamisa have helped Paalam rehearse the strategy twice on Friday for the showdown at Kokugikan Arena.

“I know the boy is very, very, very, very handy and he’s been around for a long time,” said Abnett.

On Friday, Galido said he sees no problem with Paalam executing the game plan, saying the Cagayan de Oro-born boxer is very disciplined.

Nutritionist Jeaneth Aro has seen that discipline first-hand.

“He’s very much disciplined when it comes to following his meal plan,” Aro said on Friday.

Paalam’s food intake on Friday would only be enough to complement his training for the day. On Saturday morning Paalam will wake up at 5:30 a.m. and feed on boiled or scrambled egg for breakfast. He will then leave with the team and proceed to the weigh-in.

On the way there, Aro will bring carbohydrates-rich snacks like sports drinks, banana and bread so that as soon as he makes weight, Paalam can rehydrate. Then it’s off to the dining hall for a full meal of rice, protein like chicken and soup.

“Soup is important so his body rehydrates because the day before, his meal intake is minimized,” Aro said.

Psychologist Marcus Manalo, on the other hand, will make sure Paalam is mentally ready for the big fight. Manalo had previously stressed the importance of “maintaining focus” despite being already assured of the silver.

“[We will] just ask him to focus on executing the fight plan,” Manalo said. “Winning will just take care of itself.”

Manalo also plans to “normalize the possible intense emotions that might arise as a result of pressure and expectations” by reminding Paalam that he “has power over those thoughts and emotions and that he can choose how he will respond.”

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