Klitschko’s Date with Destiny

By Gordon Marino on May 3, 2013
Klitschko’s Date with Destiny
"I tell him that he can break Joe Louis' record of 25 title defenses. And I think he can."

The attention of boxing fans in the U.S. will be riveted on a ring in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this Saturday, where pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather will be defending his welterweight world title against Robert Guerrero.

However, on that same night, thousands of miles away, another milestone fistic event will be in process. WBA/IBF/WBO/IBA heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (59-3, 50 KOs) will defend his titles against Francesco Pianeta (28-0-1, 15 KOs) of Italy. The contest will take place at the SAP Arena in Mannheim Germany and will be televised on EPIX, beginning at 4:30 ET.

Pianeta, who now lives in Germany, is a former Klitschko sparring partner who insists that when working with his boss, he detected flaws that he will exploit on Saturday night. Pianeta is a southpaw with good boxing skills but is not in the same ball park as Klitschko in terms of speed and power.

Though undefeated, Pianeta’s biggest victories are over heavyweights on the senior circuit. In 2012, he earned decisions over 43-year-old Frans Botha and 47-year-old Oliver McCall. Pianeta is not ranked in the top ten of the heavyweight division by The Ring magazine and were he to win this weekend, it would be an upset of Tyson-Douglas magnitude.

The heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko has not lost since 2004, nor has he been tested by any of his opponents. This will be his 14th title defense.

Not long before he died, Klitschko’s trainer, Emanuel Steward confided, “I hate to say it but Wladimir has cleaned out the division. He always stays in shape but it is getting hard to motivate him. I tell him that he can break Joe Louis’ record of 25 title defenses. And I think he can.”

Steward, who transformed Klitschko’s once faltering career, always insisted that he and Wladimir worked everything out together. It was a collaborative as opposed to master-student relationship.

Still, the Hall-of-Fame trainer understood that his charge didn’t have the greatest whiskers and that he would never shine at the inside boxing game.

Steward helped Klitschko develop his balance and one of the best jabs in heavyweight history. Dr. Steelhammer’s left is a quick head-snapping punch that will knock anyone off their game and sometimes out of their senses. Over the last few years, Wladimir has become very successful at dropping a left hook after the jab and at turning the jab into a hook. After his opponent becomes hypnotized by the left, Klitschko begins launching his highly concussive right.

Klitschko’s right is a weapon of beauty. He does not telegraph it by bringing his elbow out and when it arrives it often leaves the recipient blinking and horizontal. George Foreman once remarked to me that he was sure Wladimir had the hardest right hand in boxing since—well, George Foreman.

But Steward understood that the only way to beat his charge would be to get inside the perimeter. And toward that end, the Kronk headmaster was always trying to add a right uppercut to Klitschko’s arsenal. The uppercut is a shot that not only devastates but will give a fighter like Klitschko space to get off the ropes and back to where he is most effective, namely, center ring.

Shortly before he passed away, Steward told me, “Wlad is throwing the uppercut in sparring and hurting people with it but he is not quite comfortable using it in fights yet. He is a perfectionist and won’t do anything new until he is completely comfortable with it.”

If the 6-foot-5-inch Francesco Pianeta is lucky on Saturday, he won’t have to worry about any punches coming at him from underneath, just that freight train of Klitschko’s right steaming down the pike of Pianeta’s lefty stance!

A professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College, Gordon Marino writes on boxing for the Wall Street Journal. He is on the board and works with boxers at the Circle of Discipline in Minneapolis, as well as at the Basement Gym in Northfield, MN. You can follow him on Twitter at @GordonMarino.

Special thanks to the Huffington Post.

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Francesco Pianeta can be seen live online this afternoon, Saturday at 4:30 pm ET, at http://www.epixhd.com/klitschko-vs-pianeta/.

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  1. Meinhard Schmidt 05:32pm, 05/03/2013

    Thanks Ted but all credit goes to paul magno this time! and i take nothing away from pianeta, he is a nice “next-door” guy who has problems to be the toughest guy in his own town gelsenkirchen( or wherever he lives)... i blame Klitschkos manager Boente for all that silly matchmaking and pray for james toney not to get a shot at wlad in 2014. (toney would have a decent chance of upsetting pianeta via sd btw- thats how you have to look at this “fight”).

  2. Koolz 05:06pm, 05/03/2013

    It might be a really mismatched fight but you have to give Pianeta his chance.

    Maybe he will get KO’d in the 4th.

  3. Ted 03:38pm, 05/03/2013

    Meinhard has the beat

  4. Meinhard Schmidt 02:15pm, 05/03/2013

    “Klitschko-Pianeta is a cringe-worthy mismatch of epic proportions, the boxing equivalent of man vs. running helicopter blades or baby seal vs. 15-pound sledgehammer”.... this is what paul magno says and it pretty much sums up what i think of tomorrow’s fight. the only reason it maybe takes 6, 7 rounds is the commercial tv-money!

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 12:06pm, 05/03/2013

    Gordon Marino-Speaking of funky punches…..the left delivered by Sanders that started this “whiskers” issue literally came up from Corrie’s waist just as Wlad pulled Sanders, in putting Sanders’ head flush to the left side of Wlad’s head just as this ungodly punch landed on the right side of Wlad’s jaw….putting Wlad literally between a rock and a hard place!

  6. Ted 11:42am, 05/03/2013


  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 11:30am, 05/03/2013

    A right cross unlike Arreola’s bent elbow right which for some dadgummed reason is delivered with the elbow out and pointed upward at the ceiling!

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