By Dave Spencer / Fightnews Canada
He’s waited patiently, biding his time through stops and starts until the opportunity finally arose to once again challenge for a world title. But at the age of 43, the clock is quickly approaching midnight for veteran Silvio Branco (59-9-2 36KO) who challenges Jean Pascal for the WBC light-heavyweight title tonight from the Bell Centre in Montreal. “I’ve come to Canada to win,” Branco told Fightnews, “I’ve had tests done where doctors have told me that my body is ten years younger than my actual age.” Whether that revelation means we’ll be seeing the well chiseled Italian for another ten years, but as fight-week has progressed there’s been more fight in the former world champion than when he arrived last Saturday.
Initially very respectful towards Pascal when he first landed onto Canadian soil last Saturday to fight in North America for the first time, “He’s a good fighter, but we’ve come to Canada to win the fight,” Branco has been increasingly agitated as the week has progressed. All went well at the press conference earlier this week until a final round of photographs for latecomers erupted into a shouting match with Pascal claiming the belt would be staying in Montreal and Branco yelling across the room that his opponent would “perdere” or lose.
The shouting evolved into shoving at Thursday’s weigh-in as the pair went face-to-face after stepping off the scales. “I think Jean has got into his head,” said Yvon Michel, promoter for the event and Pascal. That was evidenced Monday as the challenger’s brother and current EBU champion Gianluca Branco pulled this reporter aside and stated he believed Pascal should be an actor.
The ‘younger’ Branco (43-2-1) who is 39 and best known to North American fans for the only two losses on his record to Miquel Cotto and Arturo Gatti, also hopes that lightening strikes his brother the same way it struck him last December when he won the European championship to a fighter 12 years his junior. Silvio believes that age is only a number and talked of unification, not retirement should he come out of Montreal victorious.
This marks the sixth world title fight for ‘Il Barbaro’ who is 2-3 and has won regular and interim versions of the WBA light-heavyweight world championship in his two victories and has victories over Glen Johnson and Robin Reid in a career that has spanned over 21 years.
Originally Branco was to have met another Montrealer, Adrian Diaconu, but after that fight fell through on more than one occasion, Diaconu was allowed an optional defense and fell to Pascal. “I didn’t look at that match between Pascal and Diaconu,” admitted the fighter, “I’m here to win, it doesn’t matter who is in front of me.” Branco would divulge on how he plans to handle the speed from Pascal, other than to say he’s been training for three months in preparation and to come out watch. “I don’t speak about strategy before a fight,” he bluntly stated. “I’ve trained hard and I’ve come here to win the fight.”