Wladimir Klitschko defends his myriad collection of championship titles against Francesco Pianeta Saturday, May 4th at SAP-Arena, Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
On paper, it would seem Wlad is taking a breather against Pianeta, but any fighter measuring in at 6-5, 240lbs is hardly the kind of breather most folks would wish to have any part of. Pianeta has been near cracking the boxrec top ten rankings, and he’s a prime 29 yrs of age, and an undefeated southpaw, 28-0-1, 15 KOs. He has typical “names” on his record to lend respectability, decisions over former WBC champ Oliver McCall and former WBO champ Frans Botha, and a decision and a draw over former EBU/EU champs Matt Skelton and Albert Sosnowski.
Pianeta also has some history with Wlad as a sparring partner as typifies many title fights today, and then there’s the understated backdrop of his comeback from a very unusual cancer of the hand. He’s also a native born Italian living and fighting in Germany as befits any fighter serious about pursuing a heavyweight career, so he’s not quite your Daddy’s usual heavyweight contender.
Speaking of history, Wlad has some real history to contemplate as he closes in on the Joe Louis record of 26 title wins and final record of 66-3. Wlad is currently at 20 title wins with a record of 59-3 after having already surpassed Louis’ knockouts by a 51 to 49 margin. Comparisons to the great Joe Louis stick in the craw of primarily American fans for whom the Russian Robots represent everything wrong with boxing, ignoring that the Klitschko brothers are genuinely Ukrainian, not Russian, and the only thing being wrong with boxing is that fat, spoilt Americans keep on falling behind the rest of the world. It is what it is, an American gag reflex to the current reality.
Facts are there are almost no truly dangerous contenders left for Wlad, so this defense suffices until up and coming contenders Tyson Fury and Kubrat Pulev gain a bit more experience. The WBA shadow champ Alexander Povetkin and his promoter have may have finally mustered up some courage after falling out of previous contracted fights when the Povetkin manager, Vlad Hryunov, put in an outrageous Russian backed $23 million purse bid to win the rights to promote their fight. October 31st is the projected date with the venue not yet chosen, but Russia probably with Moscow as the frontrunner. Wlad receives 75% and Povetkin takes 25% of the proceedings is how purse bids go.
Getting back to the Pianeta defense, many of the usual complainants to claim Pianeta is unworthy and has no chance, but at Wlad’s 37 year maturity with over 20 years of amateur and professional rounds accumulated in sparring and in bouts, lightning could strike to upset the best laid plans of mice and men, even the Wlad juggernaut. Pianeta is certainly big enough, strong enough, skilled enough and credentialed enough to beat up many contenders throughout the heavyweight history as well as versions of previous great champions upset by a huge underdog.
Wouldn’t be the first time, nor the last, so look in to see a bit of history in the making. Wlad seems to have signed a deal with HBO to broadcast the fight to American shores in the late afternoon hours as the battle takes place according to German evening hours, so plenty of Americans to have access this latest waltz round the German ballroom.