Cancer-survivor Pianeta faces Klitschko
BERLIN (AP) — Under Wladimir Klitschko’s disparaging gaze, Francesco Pianeta did not give much away during an open workout before he challenges the Ukrainian for his WBA and IBF heavyweight belts on Saturday.
The undefeated Italian, who overcame testicular cancer, merely went through the motions in the last public appearance before their bout in Mannheim.
The 28-year-old Pianeta, who has lived in Gelsenkirchen since he was 6, was briefly Klitschko’s sparring partner last year and knows the formidable challenge of dethroning the 37-year-old Klitschko, who was also based in Germany.
“I know him from inside the ring. Together with my coach Dirk Dzemski we have a tactic to draw Wladimir out of his comfort zone. Then he’s vulnerable,” Pianeta said.
Klitschko (59-3, 51KO) referred to Mike Tyson’s famous quote, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face,” adding: “Pianeta will be super motivated and wants to use his big chance but I am very experienced and will show him his limits.”
One thing Pianeta (28-0-1, 15KO) can be sure of — the biggest payoff of his career to date.
“It’s certainly more than usual. I’m satisfied,” Pianeta said.
He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2009 and vowed to use the money for charitable causes.
“I want to give something back. And then I want to donate for the church and a mosque. As a Christian, I grew up with many Muslims,” he said.
The Italian said he could see Klitschko’s “weaknesses” from their sparring days “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.”
Klitschko, whose older brother Vitali holds the WBC belt, hasn’t fought since November, when he was taken the distance by Poland’s Mariusz Wach. It was his first bout since the death of longtime trainer and friend Emanuel Steward. He previously enjoyed comfortable wins over American Tony Thompson, Frenchman Jean Marc Mormeck and Britain’s David Haye.
But the Ukrainian expects a stiffer challenge from Pianeta in his 23rd world championship fight.
“I have a lot of respect for Francesco Pianeta. He is young, a southpaw and has an immense fighting spirit. He will do anything to reach his goal,” Klitschko said.
If, as expected, Klitschko adds Pianeta to his lengthy list of wins, attention will turn to a likely bout with Alexander Povetkin of Russia. He’s the “regular” WBA champion after Klitschko was elevated to “super champion” by the WBA after his win over Haye.
Povetkin became the mandatory challenger for Klitschko with his win over American challenger Hasim Rahman last September.