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Who Will Wladimir Klitschko’s Next Opponent Be ?

Posted on 02/20/2013

It appears Wladimir Klitschko may be fighting on May 4, which would put his heavyweight championship bout on the same day as Floyd Mayweather’s big debut on Showtime against Robert Guerrero. Of course, it wouldn’t likely come into a time conflict with that bout, since with the time difference (Europe) it will be happening earlier in the day.

The choice of opponent is up in the air right now. The thinking is that if the fight’s television deal dictates that it caters to a European or international audience, it will be Francesco Pianeta, who carries a record of 28-0-1 with 15 knockouts. If Americans are what they are going after, it could be Bryant Jennings, the young Philadelphian who is 16-0 with eight knockouts, and who is, interestingly enough, slated to be in an IBF title elimination bout against Kubrat Pulev, now that Tomasz Adamek has backed out of that opportunity.

Let’s take a quick at each of these possibilities:

Pianeta is a native of Italy who relocated to Germany. He didn’t do so because he got signed by a promoter, but because his family moved there when he was six years of age. He started out his “Combat sports” career involved in Muay Thai and had ten fights in that discipline before focusing on pro boxing.

Pianeta was handled very carefully from the start, and his people continue to be careful with him. He is a former WBC “youth” heavyweight champion, and also won the European championship with a stoppage of Scott Gammer in 2008. The only blemish on his record thus far has been a 12-round draw with Albert Sosnowski in defense of that EBU title in April 2009. He’s made a practice of fighting people who were a little over the hill, to say the least, but experienced enough to give him at least something of a test. Matt Skelton, who was 43 at the time, was one of his European title challengers, and lasted eight rounds. He scored a pretty decisive win over Oliver McCall last May, and then came back in September to pitch a near-shutout over Frans Botha.

He’s tall (6’5″) and rangy, which presents problems for a lot of people because he is a southpaw. Because of his height, the right jab can serve to keep an opponent off-balance, but it doesn’t look like he snaps it out there all that much. When he does, he’s a lot more effective, but then again, that can be said for all fighters. Pianeta likes to come forward and actually doesn’t look like he’s out of place working on the inside, which is kind of unusual for a guy that tall. Speed does not appear to be his strong suit, and he’s certainly not known as a devastating puncher. In other words, he’s “safe.”

Jennings, who works as a mechanic at the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia, turned pro three years ago and has made a name for himself just recently. Like a lot of the fighters who are brought up in Philadelphia, he received a lot more in the way of experience through sparring sessions with better fighters than he did in amateur bouts. In fact, he had only 17 of them, but still made it to the finals of two national tournaments – the Police Athletic League championships and the National Golden Gloves. He had fought very little in the way of pro opposition until he was called in to fight Maurice Byarm as a substitute main event on the first NBC Sports Network “Fight Night” show, and he won the Pennsylvania title by decision.

He has had impressive performances from there, stopping former WBO heavyweight champion Siarhei Liakhovich in eight rounds last March and then easily beating 25-1-1 Steve Collins at the Prudential Center, and in his last bout, back on December 8, he overcame a 28-pound weight disadvantage, as well as a third-round knockdown (unofficial, mind you), to knock out Bowie Tupou. Jennings showed his power when he needed it, landing a devastating right uppercut to put a sudden end to the proceedings in the fifth round.

Jennings may not have a whole lot of experience, but he is a smart and talented boxer. You can tell he has had an education that is much more extensive than most competitors. He’s a boxer who likes to use a lot of movement, and he could hang in with Klitschko if he could toss that jab out there with more frequency. Other than that, though, he may get swallowed up by sheer size.

According to an ESPN report, had Mayweather continued his relationship with HBO, the network would have purchased the rights to Klitschko’s heavyweight title fight, chiefly for the purposes of using it to promote Mayweather’s pay-per-view date that night.

Yes, a fight for what used to be the most coveted title in sports, with the guy who holds three of the belts, used to plug another fight.

That’s boxing in this day and age.

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