Branco Stops Tolppola
By Erik Schmidt: Making his first defense of his EBU (European) light welterweight title, Italian Gianluca Branco (42-2-1, 22 KOs) defeated challenger Juho Tolppola (21-5-1, 9 KOs) in a 9th round TKO after the fight was stopped due to swelling on the fight side of Tolppola’s head on Friday night at the PalaLido, in Milan, Lombardia, Italy. Branco, 38, struggled throughout the fight against Tolppola, from Finland, having problems dealing with his combinations.
However, as the fight progressed into the later rounds, Branco began to take control over the fight with his powerful jab and left hooks. The fight was marred by a lot of dirty in fighting, with a lot of holding and hitting, rabbit punches and intentional head butts occurring between both fighters throughout the fight. Luckily for them, there were no point deductions in the fight, but perhaps there should have been because the fight was often pretty out of control with fouling going on back and forth.
Throwing a lot of hard 1-2 combinations, Tolppola dominated the first round, landing often in the round and backing Branco up much of the time. Branco was busy himself, throwing a lot of jabs, and on one occasion, holding Tolppola around the neck with his left hand and hitting him twice with right hands. No warning was given by the referee.
The second round was close, with Branco throwing more jabs than in the previous round, but still taking a lot right hands and fast left-right combinations from Tolppola. Branco didn’t have the power to just stand and trade with Tolppola, and was forced to move often around the ring, circling continuously and pumping out a steady jab. Tolppola, not exactly the swiftest fighter, had problems cutting off the ring on Branco and because of that, he was often eating a lot of jabs in the round.
In the 3rd round, Tolppola seemed to be troubled by the jabs he was getting pounded with, which seemed to have the effect of slowing down his offensive attacks a notch or two. Perhaps out of frustration, Tolppola rammed his head into Branco’s head while in a clinch with him. In this case, referee Ian John-Lewis spoke up, warning Ian John-Lewis about the use of his head. Later in the round, Branco grabbed Tolppola in a head lock and then tagged him with a right hand. No warning was given for this.
In the 4th and 5th rounds, Branco continued dominating the fight with his strong jabs and occasional left hooks. Tolppola still was attacking hard at times, but much less often than in the first two rounds. Branco was now showing signs of swelling under his left eye, a product of Tolppola’s hard right hand shots. In the 5th, Branco grabbed Tolppola around the neck with one hand and tagged him with a free hand twice. Again, no warning given.
The 6th round saw Branco jabbing Tolppola a lot, as well as holding and hitting him on two separate occasions in the round with uppercuts and short right hands. Tolppola seemed to be showing a lot of Patience in taking the fouls without losing his temper or complaining. In hindsight, he probably should have opened his trap a little, because the fouling were continuing round after round without much control being taken by the third party in the ring.
In the 7th round, Branco landed some good right hands to the head of Tolppola and kept him busy by moving a lot. During a couple of clinches in the round, Branco landed short rabbit punches behind the head of Tolppola, a move which seemed hardly necessary because Branco seemed well in control of the fight by this time.
By the 8th round, Tolppola had a nasty bruise on the right side of his face, just above his temple area which was swelling outward in a large ball. Branco continued jabbing as usual and now throwing left hooks directly on the spot of the swelling. There was more holding and hitting and rabbit punches in clinches by Branco during the round, but other than that, it was a pretty much uneventful round.
At the start of the 9th round, referee Ian John-Lewis marched Tolppola over to the ringside doctor to have him examine the swelling on his right side of his face. However, he allowed the fight to continue, but he looked very concerned, as if he would be stopping the fight soon. Tolppola fought very hard in the opening minute of the round, perhaps knowing he only had a little time before the fight would be stopped. Indeed, he looked the best he had since the first round, and landed a lot of powerful right hands.
However, just when things were going well for Tolppola, referee Ian John-Lewis stopped the action and walked him over to the ringside doctor, who advised that the fight be stopped due to the massive swelling on Tolppola’s face.