World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko defended his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts on Saturday as he outclassed challenger Francesco Pianeta with a sixth-round knock-out to register the 60th win of his career.
Although German-Italian Pianeta, who survived testicular cancer three years ago, came into the fight undefeated in his 29 previous fights, he was beaten by the 37-year-old champion in Mannheim, south-west Germany.
“I want to thank my opponent, there are a lot of challengers who talk a lot, but he got in the ring and fought bravely,” said Klitschko. His comments were a thinly-veiled dig at David Haye who has constantly tried to lure Klitschko back in the ring, despite the British fighter’s points defeat to the Ukrainian in Hamburg in July 2011.
After Pianeta fought on, despite first hitting the canvas in the fourth round, the champion paid further tribute to the challenger’s courage. “After the battle he has had against cancer he deserves respect,” said Klitschko.
“He tried everything to hit me, if he had landed one his big punches, I wouldn’t have got up.” “I’m okay, just very disappointed and sad,” added Pianeta after receiving treatment in the ring.
Victory gave Klitschko the 51st knock-out of his career, but the last of his three defeats came nearly a decade ago. For his next fight, Klitschko has been ordered by the World Boxing Association to face Russia’s Alexander Povetkin in Moscow on August 31.