Wladimir Klitschko (59-3, 50 KO) will defend his alphabet soup of heavyweight titles (WBO, IBF, WBA and IBO) against former sparring partner and cancer survivor Francesco Pianeta (28-0, 15 KO) on Saturday in Germany.
This will be Klitschko's 15th defense of one or more of his titles. He hasn't lost a fight since 2004.
Pianeta is taking a major step up in competition here. The highlights of his career have been decision wins over 48-year-old ex-champion Oliver McCall and 44-year-old Frans Botha.
Without a sparkling resume to validate him, Pianeta is a huge underdog heading into the fight. Will Klitschko have an easy route to his 15th title defense, or can Pianeta shock the world?
Here's how you can watch.
When: Saturday, May 4, 4:30 p.m. ET
Where: SAP-Arena in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
TV/Live Stream: Epix HD (pay service)
The Book on Klitschko
Will He Ever Get His Due?
No fighter has dominated their weight class the way Klitschko has in decades. But despite holding a share of the heavyweight title for over seven years straight, he doesn't get the respect you would associate with such accomplishments.
Being a non-American fighter has something to do with it. Unfortunately, the boxing world rarely gives as much credibility to non-American heavyweights.
A more colorful personality could possibly curb that, but Klitschko doesn't bring that to the table. All he does is win, speak eloquently and conduct himself as a businessman in the ring and out.
To most fans, that is quite boring. Nevertheless, this approach has carried Klitschko to enormous success.
Beyond his in-ring dominance, Wladimir ranked as the 24th highest-paid athlete in the world, per Forbes.com. That surely makes it easier to deal with fans that don't fully appreciate your brilliance.
In the Ring
The biggest difference in Klitschko since he had some struggles early in his career, is his ability to properly use his height.
Though there a few big heavyweights in the world, At 6'6" with a reach of 81", Klitschko usually has the height and length edge over his opponents.
Couple that with his underrated athleticism, massive power and high in-ring IQ and you have a monster.
The division really doesn't have another fighter capable of defeating him.
Thankfully, he isn't willing to break his own moral standards to fight his brother for money or to appease fans. Without Vitali as a potential foe, Wladimir is virtually unchallenged.
Barring a lucky one-shot KO, Klitschko probably won't lose again in his career.
The Book on Pianeta
Looking For a Miracle
The 28-year-old, 6'5" Italian will need to catch lightning in a bottle to win. Though he's nine years younger than the champion, the size, strength and skill advantage is in Klitschko's favor.
Jimbo BoxMadMag @jamesmcknight83
Does anyone think Francesco Piatena will cause an upset and beat Wladimir Klitschko this weekend? #boxing @boxingmadmag5/2/2013, 3:40:36 PM
As a former sparring partner, it is possible Pianeta could attempt to expose something he's seen during sessions with Klitschko.
But in all honesty, it is hard to imagine a scenario where the Klitschko camp would set themselves up that way.
In the worst-case and most realistic scenario, Pianeta will likely take home a bigger purse than he ever did as a sparring partner.
In the Ring
Pianeta is more of a boxer than puncher. He moves well and has displayed a decent jab.
The main issue with the way he matches up with Klitschko is the power difference.
The challenger simply doesn't have the power to make Klitschko respect him. When the bigger man is able to come forward and close distance without fear of his opponent's power, it will be a short night for the smaller fighter.
Klitschko will continue to roll in his historic career. Pianeta has almost no chance to win this fight. The lack of power to get Klitschko's attention is huge.
Banking on a decision victory isn't practical as the champion has never lost a fight that went the distance.
My prediction is a fifth-round TKO/KO win for Klitschko.
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