By Alexey Sukachev
At 46, every single fight can be the end of the road for him, but Silvio Branco (63-11-3, 37 KOs) is nevertheless still victorious - at least at European level. Tonight, at Stadio Comunale Fattori in Civitavecchia, the Italian veteran (and former two-time WBA light heavyweight champion) got the better of rugged Finnish challenger Juho Haapoja (20-4-1, 13 KOs) over ten close rounds to grab a vacant WBC Silver cruiserweight title and to continue his road to yet another title shot at an almost record age.
WBC #5 Branco was coming into this match-up after two back-to-back very close fights with fellow Italian old man Giacobbe Fragomeni for the very same belt (Fragomeni, 43, is now rated #1 by the World Boxing Council with the WBC champion being Krzysztof Wlodarczyk of Poland). Haapoja, 32, rebounded well with two easy stoppages this spring after a one-sided loss to Mateusz Masternak for the EBU belt.
Haapoja fought hard this time but the luck wasn't on his side. He landed some clean punches but cagey Branco took them well, didn't wilt under fire and landed a number of light but annoying punches. There were many clinches, many fouls as well - mostly induced by the savvy veteran. Branco paid the price in the fourth, having been cut seriously over his left eye. Haapoja, meanwhile, was deducted a point in the sixth for excessive use of his head after another accidental headbutt, which he didn't look guilty in. After more headbutts, punches and rounds, the bout was stopped in the midst of the tenth after another clash of heads. Although Branco looked fit to continue, the fight was stopped by the referee on the doctor's advice. After all scorecards were collected, the technical decision was awarded to Silvio Branco - unanimously.
Undefeated middleweight Emanuele Blandamura (20-0, 5 KOs) looked thrilling in his six-round unanimous decision over Latvian import Andrejs Loginovs (14-28-1, 7 KOs). Blandamura knocked his opponent down with body punches twice in the sixth.