A Quick Look at Francesco Pianeta, Tyson Fury’s Next Opponent

Chapter Two of Tyson Fury’s comeback will unfold on August 18 at Windsor Park, a 22,000-seat soccer stadium in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Francesco Pianeta will be in the opposite corner. An Italian by birth but a citizen of Germany where he has resided since the age of 10, the 33-year-old Pianeta (pictured) is a former two-time world title challenger.

Fury (26-0, 19 KOs) was the lineal heavyweight champion when he was forced to the sideline in 2016 by a host of personal problems. He returned on June 9 after a 924-day absence, opposing milquetoast Sefer Seferi. A 39-year-old Albanian by way of Switzerland, the obscure Seferi played the role to which he was assigned but played it poorly, clocking out after four rounds.

Pianeta represents a big jump up in class from Seferi, but let’s put that in perspective. In Sefer Seferi, the six-foot-nine Fury was meeting a man who was 10 inches shorter, a man he would out-weigh by 66 ½ pounds. This time around, Tyson Fury will be picking on someone nearer his own size. Pianeta, who stands six-foot-five, weighed in at 242 ½ pounds for his last bout last month.

He lost that match, losing a 10-round decision to rising Croatian contender Petar Milas. That was only his fourth loss in 40 fights, but his other defeats came via stoppage. U.S. journeyman Kevin Johnson stopped him in seven frames in October of last year. Pianeta was ahead on the scorecards through the completed rounds, but was taking a beating when his corner tossed in the towel. In 2015, he was knocked out in the first round by defending WBA world heavyweight title-holder Ruslan Chagaev. Two years earlier, he was stopped in six by unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Pianeta hasn’t defeated a fighter of note (unless one counts greybeards Oliver McCall and Frans Botha) since 2008 when he outpointed then undefeated Johan Duhaupas in a 12-round contest in Switzerland. Typical of most European heavyweights, his record exaggerates his skill-set. However, if Pianeta is in it to win it and not merely here to draw a paycheck (a big if), then this won’t be a second straight stroll in the park for the self-styled Gypsy King.

True, Fury ended Wladimir Klitschko’s long title reign, but he was fighting a 39-year-old man having an off night. Moreover, although the decision in Fury’s favor was unanimous, it wasn’t as if he dominated. It was an ugly fight. And now he’s a few years older — he turns 30 six days before fighting Pianeta – and is still in the process of shedding some suet. He carried 276 pounds for Sefer Seferi, 29 pounds more than he weighed for Klitschko. The view from here is that Hughie Fury, who looked very good while taking apart Sam Sexton in May, is now the best of the Fury cousins.

Tyson Fury vs. Francesco Pianeta is ostensibly #3 in the Windsor Park pecking order. Belfast’s Carl Frampton, coming off a strong performance over Nonito Donaire, will defend his WBO featherweight belt against Australia’s overmatched Luke Jackson in the main go. Another Belfast man, Paddy Barnes, will attempt to wrest the WBC world flyweight title from the shoulders of Nicaragua’s Christofer Rosales. Barnes is 5-0 as a pro and was 5-1 as a pro-am in the World Series of Boxing, but he’s well-schooled, a two-time Olympian.

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