Undefeated challenger and cancer survivor Francesco Pianeta has vowed to shock undisputed world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko when the pair meet tomorrow night, with the Ukrainian’s four world titles on the line.
The 37-year-old Klitschko will defend his World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Organization belts in Mannheim, Germany, against German-Italian Pianeta, from Gelsenkirchen, who survived testicular cancer three years ago and has an unblemished record of 28 wins and one draw.
“I will bust my backside to get those belts. I am sure that everyone is beatable,” said the 28-year-old Pianeta, who has a tattoo bearing Julius Caesar’s famous phrase veni, vidi, vici: “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Klitschko is looking for the 60th win of his career and having put in 143 sparring rounds in preparation, says he is ready.
“I’m as ready as I always am, but I will not underestimate him,” said Klitschko, who has used Pianeta as a sparring partner before and has a record of 59 wins, 50 KOs and three losses. “It is the opportunity of a lifetime and he has already won his toughest fight, because he has defeated cancer.”
A crowd of 13,000 is expected in Mannheim and the fight will be broadcast in 150 countries, but Klitschko wants a quick knockout.
“I will give everything for a clear win,” he said.
Meanwhile, Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison on Wednesday said he was retiring from professional boxing following his latest loss.
The 41-year-old Briton suffered a first-round knockout by Deontay Wilder of the US in Sheffield, England, on Saturday.
“There are only so many times you can fall before it becomes foolhardy to continue,” Harrison said. “I’ve done well to turn my life around, but sadly my dream to be a legitimate world champion will be unrealized.”
Harrison became the first British boxer to win an Olympic gold medal in the super-heavyweight category at the 2000 Games in Sydney and, as a pro, did challenge for a world title.
However, a series of uninspiring contests led to him acquiring the unflattering nickname of “Fraudley” after he signed a controversial seven-figure contract with the BBC after turning pro.
His retirement is likely to spark as much relief as sadness in the British boxing community.