- Wladimir Klitschko v Francisco Pianeta
Klitschko batters Pianeta in easy victory
Wladimir Klitschko chalked up an 18th straight victory as he outclassed the previously unbeaten Francesco Pianeta to defend his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles on Saturday.
Klitschko, whose last loss came to Lamon Brewster in 2004, was able to dictate the tempo and style of the contest en route to a sixth-round stoppage.
Pianeta was described as having "zero chance" by David Haye during ESPN's pre-fight build-up, and the Italian's record offered little to strike fear into the 37-year-old Klitschko. Wins over Frans Botha and Oliver McCall sounded more impressive on paper than in reality, and he found himself out of his depth in Germany.
The challenger used to be a sparring partner of Klitschko and, with matching height, a southpaw stance and a 29-fight unbeaten record, he posed enough pre-fight questions to intrigue the public in Mannheim.
However, the brutal truth was Klitschko had fought far better opponents than the man standing opposite him, and victory was inevitable from the first round onwards.
A relaxed Pianeta landed an early looping right hand but quickly ate a couple of heavy shots as Klitschko threw straight and sharp. The champion's accuracy was alarming and by the end of the opening stanza the authority was established.
As ever in a Klitschko fight, everything worked off the jab - keeping his foe at range, although Pianeta did get close enough to slam a looping left into the champ's jaw in round three. Nevertheless, offering no head movement, the Italian began to swell around the right eye under accumulated punishment.
The serious business started in the fourth as Pianeta hit the mat after a straight right hand down the pipe, and the only surprise was Klitschko did not chase the finish as his opponent covered up in the corner.
Pianeta took an eight count in the fifth following a left hand, and the one-sided beating continued into the sixth. A wonderful three-punch combination finally ended it, the referee waving it off with eight seconds remaining in the round.
Klitschko will now head for a lucrative showdown with Alexander Povetkin proposed for August, a bout that is expected to earn him £17 million.