“After the battle he has had against cancer, he deserves respect,” Klitschko said. “He tried everything to hit me. If he had landed one his big punches, I wouldn’t have got up.”
Pianeta made an ambitious start with one huge right hand coming over the top of Klitschko’s guard, but failing to connect, while the champion responded with two heavy jabs that found their target.
Klitschko relied on his jab in the opening three rounds as the challenger landed several heavy shots, but a big right from the Ukrainian put Pianenta on the floor in the fourth round.
From then on, the challenger was struggling to stay in the fight, and although he showed plenty of heart by fighting on, he was down again in the fifth, but managed to survive the referee’s count.
With his coordination clearly compromised, it was only a matter of time before the fight was brought to an end.
With his trainer ready to throw in the towel, Pianeta did not come up again after hitting the canvas 2 minutes, 52 seconds into the sixth round, after a brutal left-right combination floored him for the last time.
“I’m OK, just very disappointed and sad,” added Pianeta after receiving treatment in the ring.
Victory gave Klitschko the 51st knock-out of his career, while the last of his three defeats came nearly a decade ago. For his next fight, Klitschko has been ordered by the WBA to face Russia’s Alexander Povetkin in Moscow on Aug. 31.
Russian promoter Vladimir Hryunov won the purse bid to stage that bout with a staggering US$23.33 million bid last week.
The Ukrainian is entitled to 75 percent of that figure, which would give him a career-high US$17,250,000 purse.
Povetkin is the “regular” WBA champion and Klitschko the governing bodies’ “super” champion — an honor bestowed on him when he added the WBA belt to his three others with his points win over Haye in 2011.
Now Klitschko and Povetkin are obliged to fight to leave just a single WBA belt-holder.
The two former Olympic champions were due to clash twice before, but Povetkin pulled out in 2008 because of injury and then backed out a second time in 2010.