Wladimir Klitschko did the expected, and took out game but overmatched challenger Francesco Pianeta in Germany on Saturday. Wlad dropped the Italian-born German resident in rounds four, five and six; Pianeta got up before ten, but the ref pulled the plug and ended the target practice at 2:52.
Pianeta gets points for trying, for sticking around, for earning his check. He took a 28-0 record in with him, and those rooting for the underdog hoped that the man who beat testicular cancer could channel that experience. He showed ample heart but not the requisite skills to challenge Wlad. We watched because we knew, from experience, that things happen in this theater of the unexpected, that Pianeta MIGHT get lightning in a bottle. But instead it was Wlad's might which spoke loudest.
Klitscho held out his lead hand, and kept it out there oftentimes, to measure his foe and act as a shield, which is something many refs will warn a fighter for, but Ernie Sharif didn't put his foot down.
A right hand sent the loser down in round four. It landed flush on the lefty's forehead. In the fifth, a left hook sent Pianeta to the mat. A one-two, with the right hand splitting Pianeta's guard, as his back was to the ropes, ended the matter. He rose before ten, so Wlad will receive credit for a TKO.
Wlad went 116-277 to 24-104 for the loser.
Wlad said afterwards to Bruce Beck that it's not as easy as people think, that Pianeta did have power. He said Pianeta "tried like no one else." Wlad stated that Pianeta was "pumped up" and gave him props for beating cancer.
Beck, who always does a superb job asking pointed questions in a direct but respectful manner, asked how Wlad would respond to those saying that he took an easy mark. Wlad said for those criticizing his foes, he will get criticized for whatever fights he takes, so he will simply keep on fighting, as late trainer Emanuel Steward suggested.
He wants to fight twice more this year, he told Beck. Maybe Alexander Povetkin the end of August? He said he is looking forward to fighting a fellow Olympian.
Disclosure: I Tweeted the fight for EPIX. Follow me on Twitter if you wish.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV