By Geno McGahee
At this point in his career, IBO/IBF/WBO/WBA Heavyweight Champion, Wladimir Klitschko, 59-3, 50 KO’s, is nearly unbeatable. He is fighting with confidence and has eliminated the majority of the competition. He had power in both hands and knows how to stay out of trouble, defeating men of all statures and usually doing it with explosive knockouts. He has not lost since 2004 to Lamon Brewster, a fight that he avenged by knockout. He has put together 17 straight wins against the best the division has to offer and is going into this defense Saturday as an overwhelming favorite.
Klitschko’s list of beaten opponents include former heavyweight titlists David Haye (W-12), Hasim Raham (KO-7), Sultan Ibragimov (W-12), Sam Peter (W-12, KO-10), Chris Byrd (W-12, KO-7), Ruslan Chagaev (KO-9), Ray Mercer (KO-6) as well as top contenders Calvin Brock (KO-7), Eddie Chambers (KO-12), Tony Thompson (KO-11, KO-6), and Mariusz Wach (W-12). The division can be scrutinized and the determination can be made that it is in a weak state, but whatever the case may be, Wlad has owned it and would be a handful for any of the listed “all time great” heavyweights.
This Saturday, standing across the ring is Francesco Pianeta, 28-0-1, 15 KO’s. It could be argued that two victories brought this opportunity to Pianeta. He defeated Frans Botha and former WBC champ, Oliver McCall, both by decision. Other than that, there really isn’t anything on the record to speak of and even those two victories aren’t all that impressive. Botha had 58 fights and McCall had 67 going in. They were both shot forces and maybe the fact that they both made it to the finish line says a great deal about Pianeta and his chances Saturday.
Wlad proved that he can work well with whatever’s in front of him. Wach was a very tall heavyweight and he found his chin with regularity and controlled him with relative ease. Pianeta is another tall heavyweight. If he doesn’t have the chin of Wach, he’s going to be in trouble. It actually seemed that the right hand, Wlad’s power shot, landed easier on a taller guy. That could be disaster for the challenger and may just be.
This fight will depend on the challenger. We know what Wlad brings to the ring. He will come out with his jab and trying to find the mark with his right hand. Pianeta’s trainer has stated that they have a game plan that he believes will work. The blueprint used to be to bring Wlad into deep waters and drown him, but he has improved his stamina and that may not work with him anymore. The best course of action may be to pressure him and maintain it, but with only 15 KO’s in 29 fights, Pianeta may not have the pop in his shots to concern the champ.
The easy pick is Wlad by late TKO. Pianeta will have to be a special fighter to beat him and from his track record, it’s hard to make a case for that.