By Dave Spencer / Fightnews Canada
Jean Pascal (24-1, 16 KOs) retained his WBC light heavyweight world championship with a tenth round technical knockout of 43 year-old mandatory challenger Silvio Branco (59-10-2, 36 KOs) of Italy. The end came at 2:19 with Branco going down for the second time in the round just as his corner were throwing in the towel to end the fight. It was the first defense for Pascal who captured the title earlier this year with his victory over fellow Montrealer Adrian Diaconu. The rematch of that fight with Diaconu is now set to go on December 11th. Pascal also brought Branco down at the very end of the seventh round with a left hook.
It wasn’t the prettiest of fights at times, but Pascal was able to control most of the action after the third round. “I was a bit nervous to start,” admitted Pascal who used the entire ring in the first couple rounds, back-pedaling from an aggressive Branco who was shooting out a stiff jab. Pascal’s punches came from all angles in the early going as he crouched and delivered shots, never really having solid footing under him.
Branco who is a two-time WBA world champion and a veteran of five world title fights going into the contest cut an imposing figure in the ring and at times seemed to dwarf the smaller Pascal who is fighting at light-heavyweight for just the second time. After getting caught in against the ropes in the third round, Pascal managed to shift gears and started countering his charging opponent and earning some respect. Pascal was coming straight up the middle with well placed left-hand counters and managed to catch Branco with a shot that soon had his right eye quickly swelling up.
“He might have caught me,” admitted Pascal of a Branco shot in the third. “It was a hard fight and some tough work, but tonight I gained a lot of experience.”
Trainer Marc Ramsay agreed, “This was the second fight in a row where he applied himself 100% and was able to follow the game plan. We knew before the fight it was going to be a tough fight just because of the mix of styles between the two fighters but we’re very happy, this is pretty much the result we were expecting before the fight.”
Pascal benefitted from a questionable knockdown in the fourth where referee Gerry Bolen was quick to jump in and wave his arms, but then proceeded to reel off an eight count as the bell sounded to ring a second time to end the round. In the end it wouldn’t matter as the champion took control of the fight, landing with increased regularity, particularly from the sixth round on.
Continually beaten to the punch, Branco complained with increasing regularity of being pushed and being hit behind the head as the rounds started to add as the champion continued to put tens on the scorecards. A left hook brought Branco down in his own corner in the seventh and the accusations of foul-play were quickly falling on deaf ears. “This is boxing, not a movie, I think Branco has a lot of skills acting but I went in and did my job.”
That job was almost completed in the ninth round with Branco on the ropes and Pascal connecting solidly. With the Italian hanging on, a foot of tape was hanging off giving the challenger some relief that he tried to parlay into something else as he fell down in the middle of the ring on his way back to the corner claiming a low blow or hit behind the head. Referee Bolen was buying neither as the commissioner in the corner did a quick tape job and ordered the fighter back out.
Branco would survive the round but was quickly caught by an overhand right in the 10th that would put him down officially for the thirds time in the fight. The end would could moments later with Pascal moving in for the kill and Branco’s corner having seen enough, tossing a towel across the ring just as Branco was again going down.
“It was a fight against a very awkward and very skilled opponent,” said Pascal’s promoter Yvon Michel. It was likely his last chance at world championship and he gave everything, but Pascal was just too quick and too good.”
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Adonis Stevenson (13-0 10KO) returned to the ring after a one year absence and scored an impressive stoppage over Jermain Mackey (18-4 14KO) at :20 of the 5th round, capturing the WBC International super-middleweight title. Stevenson who scored a knockdown at the very end of round four was relentless in his attack in the round following, pouncing on his opponent and hammering away until referee Adrio Zannoni was forced to jump in and stop the action with Mackey hanging against the ropes. It was a methodical attack by Stevenson who wobbled Mackey in the first round with a left hook to the body and continued the attack downstairs for the first three rounds. When he started to put his punches together and up his work rate in the 4th round, Stevenson was dominant and was able to land telling blows that had Mackey in retreat mode, scoring the knockdown and subsequent stoppage.
Coming in at a career high 169 pounds, former world middleweight title challenger Sebastien Demers (29-2 11KO) scored a surprising knockout victory over Jose Spearman (25-16-5 11KO). The end came quickly with a left hook to the body of Spearman that put the fighter down to his knees for a full count of ten, the official time coming at 1:18. Demers who has always relied on his boxing abilities and jab has rarely shown one punch knockout power is the fastest victory since his pro debut. Jose Spearman was a last minute replacement for Henry Buchanan and is now winless in his last six.
In a rematch of their 2006 bout, Carl Handy was once again victorious with 60-54, 59-55, 58-56 decision over David Whittom. It wasn’t as close the second time after a close majority decision the first time round going way of the New Orleans fighter who now calls Montreal home. Handy almost finished his opponent in the final round, knocking him across the ring and into the ropes where he remained teetering, trying to hold on until the final bell. Both fighters came in heavy and it showed after the second round, particularly with Whittom who tipped the scales at a career high 193 pounds. The 34 year-old Handy was able to block most of his opponents shots and was able to land more clean shots as the fight progressed, opening up a cut under the right eye of Whittom in round two that would swell up as the six rounder progressed. Handy moves to 24-7-2 with the victory while Whittom falls even at 10-10-1.
Local welterweight Kevin Bizier (6-0 3KO) kicked action of from the Bell Centre in Montreal with a convincing 60-54 win on all three scorecards over Jose Lonardo Corona (8-10 6KO). Bizier was able to connect forcedly with a solid left over an oft retreating Coronona. Not able to land in combination, one punch at a time was more than enough to dominate over Corona who boxing in Montreal for fourth time in his last five fights.
Pier Olivier Cote destroyed Leonardo Rojas (8-9-3 2KO), knocking down the over-matched super-lightweight three times in just over a minute. Official time was 1:21 for Cote who posted his sixth knockout victory and eighth win to move to a perfect 8-0.