By Johnny Walker
Multi-titled heavyweight champion of the world Wladimir Klitschko has announced that he will be making a voluntary defense of his titles against unbeaten Francesco Pianeta on May 4 in Mannheim, Germany.
The champion, who turns 37-years-old later this month, will be looking for his 60th professional victory when he takes on his former sparring partner in May.
Pianeta was born in Italy, but has lived in Germany since the age of six, so he is equally at ease fighting on German soil as is the champion. And while the general reaction to the announcement of this fight has been cynicism and boredom, it’s not clear who else is ready and willing to fight Klitschko at this time.
British heavyweight David Price felt he was almost ready, and recently got a rude awakening at the hands of Tony Thompson, a man conquered twice—the second time with ease—by Wladimir.
Price’s domestic nemesis Tyson Fury has called out the Klitschkos on Twitter, but truth be told, he also needs more seasoning if he is to have a shot at winning and not merely becoming another statistic on the records of Wladimir or Vitali.
Other contenders, like Kubrat Pulev and Robert Helenius may be ready for a Klitschko shot in another fight or two. And WBA “regular” champion Alexander Povetkin, who ducked Klitschko twice and left him “standing at the altar” when he no-showed a press conference for one scheduled fight, is now being paid back by being made to wait until at least the summer if not later for a showdown with the real champion
So Pianeta (28-0-1, 15 KOs)–a man who overcame a bout with cancer in 2009–it is. And like most Klitschko challengers, he is saying all the right things before the fight.
“I was in Wladimir’s camp as a sparring partner last year,” says the challenger.
“I saw his weaknesses and will use them for me. I know many experts see me as the underdog but I like this role and will shock the boxing world when I knock out Klitschko!“
Boxing Insider heavyweight boxing analyst Philip Anselmo says of the obscure challenger, “Pianeta has decent size, and as ‘they’ say, he’s a heavyweight with a heavyweight’s punch … but that’s not entirely true.
“He’s gone the distance with old cats like Francois Botha and Oliver McCall just last year: had these guys been in their prime, I’d say no biggie, but a young gun should be blasting these old cats out of there.
[Pianeta] has really only KO’d tomato cans — the dude is a boxer, and content to be a boxer.
He normally uses his size to win fights, even if they’re in ugly fashion.
“But now he’s gonna be in the ring with the best pure boxer out there, and he ain’t gonna outbox Wlad.”
Anselmo also explains that “the troubling thing is that [Pianeta’s] never been defeated, meaning, we can’t tell how good his whiskers are. So that either spells out a boring points victory for Wlad, or a guy who will be in over his head and try and make an ugly fight of it … which never works to WIN, but has worked before to make it UGLY … like the [Wladimir vs Sultan] Ibragimov fight.”
A chilling thought indeed!
Adam Booth: Vitali Afraid of Haye
As for Wladimir’s brother, the WBC world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, nothing has been decided on the boxing front as he mulls a run for mayor of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
This has frustrated the camp of UK heavyweight David Haye (himself semi-retired), who feels he was promised a shot at Vitali by Klitschko manager Bernd Boente should be defeat Dereck Chisora, which he did by spectacular knockout last summer in London.
This had led Haye’s trainer, Adam Booth, to suggest that Vitali didn’t like what he saw when Haye stopped Chisora: the man who had pushed the WBC champion hard for 12 rounds and who many feel defeated top contender Robert Helenius before that.
Speaking to Sky Sports News recently, Booth opined that, “I would be surprised if Vitali wants to fight David. I have heard rumours that his coach [Fritz Sdunek] has said he does not want Vitali to take the fight.”
“[Vitali] has slowed down, they know David is quick and that David can whack.
“The last thing they want is David Haye knocking out Vitali Klitschko so I would be surprised [if Vitali agrees to the fight].”
One thing is sure: if Vitali is to fight again, his fans will want to see him matched against either a “name” fighter like Haye or a rising star like Kubrat Pulev.
The obscure Manuel Charrs and Francesco Pianetas of the boxing world would not be deemed worthy for the final fight of a champion like Vitali.