Yes, folks, there is indeed another high-profile fight card taking place on Saturday. It features the best heavyweight on the planet, and while that might not mean the same thing it did in 1957, or 1964, or 1974, or 1986 or even 2001, attention must be paid.
In case it has been off your radar, while you've been consumed and consuming the waves of Mayweather-Guerrero material, Wladimir Klitschko (seen in above photo, compliments of Allison Turcan) fights a fella named Francesco Pianeta in Mannheim, Germany; EPIX, the pay cable outfit,* will show the bout at 4:30 PM ET Saturday.
Pianeta is not a name known, frankly, to even the most brutal streaming addicts in the fightworld. His best attribute, quite possibly, is that he hasn't yet learned to lose as a pro. The Italian-born German resident who debuted in 2005 and holds wins over stubborn warhorses Matt Skelton, Oliver McCall and Frans Botha, is 28-0 with 15 knockouts.
I posed a couple queries to Travis Pomposello, who heads up the boxing department at EPIX, and is on site in Germany, overseeing the production. Why is Klitschko-Pianeta an EPIX fight?
“It's the same thing that led us to other Wladimir fights,” Pomposello said. “We're the home of Wladimir in the US. It's his fifth consecutive fight on EPIX. We love Wladimir and he seems to love us. EPIX has become his US home. He is champion of the world in the historically marquee division.”
Pomposello said that if Wladimir (59-3 with 50 KOs) defends his crowns Saturday, he moves to third, behind Joe Louis and Larry Holmes, on the Most Defenses of Heavyweight Title list. Louis had 25, Holmes 20 and Wlad, who turns 38 on March 25, has 13.
The smart money says he'll have 14 Saturday, as the lefty Pianeta doesn't have the resume or skill set to have many underdog-lovers having a gut feeling about him.
Pomposello, who fought about 130 times as an amateur, which sets him apart from all the other execs we've seen, isn't prone to some of the hardcore BSing from suits, which is one reason I've been happy to do work for him. He knows that Wlad is the immense favorite in Mannheim.
“One day, though, everybody loses,” he said. “Buster Douglas and Tyson, Ali-Liston, we saw Lennox Lewis lose.. one punch is all it can take. And I want EPIX to be there when it happens, because it's history. Without us this fight would be neglected, nobody would see this potential history. We're on the air at 4:30 pm, it's a good day of boxing, with two of the best boxers in the business doing their thing.”
Pianeta's backstory has a nice element to it in that he's beaten testicular cancer. Once you've stared down death, I presume, what happens in the ring could shrink down to a more manageable goal.
“We spoke to Pianeta when he was training at camp with Robert Stieglitz, who fought on EPIX and beat Arthur Abraham on March 23,” Pomposello said. “We found a sincere man, who had that huge victory over cancer. He's always a winner, no matter what happens in his career.
“He's not huge, he's about 6-4. I think Pianeta has a puncher's chance, if he can get inside. He's got to get past Wlad's jab. It's hard for me to go against Wlad, he's on such a roll, he's so talelented. It would be a shock to the world, a real “Rocky” story, probably one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. Wouldn't it be amazing to think that Pianeta survives cancer, then pulls off this upset? It would be storybook.”
Disclosure: I sometimes Tweet for EPIX, and they hired me to do color on their last card, April 20 in London
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