Saturday, March 25, 2023  |


Branden Pizarro outpoints Paulo Galdino in fight marred by crowd brawl

Photo by Samad Haq

PHILADELPHIA — Branden Pizarro returned to the ring on Saturday after a year out of action, but it wasn’t the statement-making performance he was hoping for.

The 23-year-old won a unanimous decision over Brazilian journeyman Paulo Galdino at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, with bizarre scores of 78-74, 78-79, 79-75 announced after the eight-round junior welterweight bout.

The fight was not without controversy. The bout was paused midway through the seventh after a brawl broke out in the crowd, with referee Harvey Dock putting the fight on hold for over five minutes. The respite gave Pizarro time to recover at a point when his gas tank appeared to be on empty. When the fight resumed, Pizarro was able to re-establish his boxing rhythm, flurrying and moving until the final bell.

“I definitely dug deep. I felt like I lost one round in the fight, but my coaches told me, ‘You gotta dig deep’ and that motivated me. They were telling me I’m down a little bit but I know that I wasn’t,” said Pizarro (18-1-1, 11 knockouts).

It was a tale of three fights, with Pizarro dominating the first three with his speed and power, after which Galdino surged over the next four rounds, with Pizarro appearing hurt by body punches. Galdino (12-7, 8 KOs) lost his momentum after the postponement and never seriously threatened Pizarro again.

It appeared early on as if Pizarro would score the highlight reel knockout he was searching for as he landed sharp combinations to the body, along with uppercuts and right hands that rocked the southpaw.

Galdino, who had been stopped in two of his three bouts in 2022, didn’t go anywhere, and continued to back Pizarro up. Pizarro resorted to bending forward and stretching his abdomen in the corner to regain his breath between rounds.

Pizarro finished the eighth round appearing as fresh as he had in the first round, getting his punches off and then moving before the slower Galdino could catch up.

Pizarro, who has fought just once per year since 2020, admits that the ring rust had impacted him.

“Everybody saw it. I felt a little bit sluggish, I feel I could have boxed a little more. I never underestimate nobody, he was super tough and he came to fight,” said Pizarro.

Pizarro says he plans to stay active, with a fight expected to be announced for June. Promoter Manny Rivera of Hard Hitting Promotions says he may return even sooner on his next promotion on April 29 at the same venue.

Rivera-Okine ends in No Decision…or does it?

Jan Carlos Rivera (7-1, 5 KOs) appeared on his way towards stopping Patrick Okine (20-4-2, 17 KOs) in their six-round junior welterweight bout, piling on the punishment to the head and body in round three, before a punch ruled an accidental low blow told the result of the fight.

Okine, who hadn’t fought since March of 2020, remained down for several minutes, and appeared to be looking for a way out of the fight, limping around in exaggerated fashion back to the corner. The fight was stopped after the round, leading to an unsatisfying no decision.

Rivera told The Ring afterwards that members of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission had reviewed the fight tape and ruled that the punch was a legal blow, and will be changing the result to a technical knockout.

Undercard results

Oshae Jones moved to 2-0 as a professional with a six-round unanimous decision over well-traveled veteran Dahianna Santana (40-15, 16 KOs) in a welterweight bout. The scores were 60-54 on two cards and 59-55 on the third, all for Jones, who won gold at the 2019 Pan American Games and a bronze medal at the 2020 Olympics.

Jones, who is from Toledo, Ohio but now trains out of Philadelphia under Bozy Ennis, the trainer/father of Jaron Ennis, controlled the bout from the opening bell, using her southpaw jab and footwork to control the ring.

After a feeling-out first round, Jones exploded in the second round with an attack of straight lefts and hooks. Jones continued to walk Santana down behind a high guard, and appeared to knock her down at the end of the third just after the bell to end the round. It was ruled no knockdown.

Jones nearly scored a stoppage midway through the sixth as Santana was stunned by a straight left, but Santana proved her resilience, making it to the final bell.

The bout was just the second for the 25-year-old Jones since turning professional last June. She is scheduled to return to action on March 31 against Simone da Silva on March 31.

Jones is managed by powerhouse manager David McWater, but she wasn’t the only female prospect that McWater had on the card.

LeAnna Cruz (4-0) of Allentown, Pa. put on a power-punching display against the tough as nails Devany Cuevas Torres (2-3-1) of San Antonio, Tex., winning by unanimous decision in their junior bantamweight bout. Scores were 60-54 on two cards and 59-55 on the third.

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].