By Jake Donovan
Lineal heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko inches closer to the heavyweight books with each passing title defense and virtually no stiff challenges waiting in the wings.
The next passage in his current championship tour takes place tonight in Mannheim, Germany. Klitschko makes the seventh defense of his lineal crown earned in 2009 and 14th overall title defense of his current alphabet title reign, which began with a repeat win over Chris Byrd in 2006.
The challenge follows his first full training camp without the guidance of the late Emanuel Steward since joining the Kronk team in 2004. Steward bowed out of camp due to declining health midway through Klitschko’s training for last November’s title defense against Mariusz Wach.
Pianeta is unbeaten and motivated, but also takes a massive leap in competition for tonight’s heavyweight clash, which airs live on EPIX and EPIXHD.com.
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes the action will go down.
B-SCENE PREDICTIONS – WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO v. FRANCISCO PIANETA
“Klitschko by KO in the 8th. No one in the heavyweights is anywhere near his level.”
- Damien Acevedo (Klitschko)
“Klitschko by KO in seven or less.”
- Jake Donovan (Klitschko)
“Wladimir is the best heavyweight in the world and, to these eyes, in the top five of the last 50 years. Pianeta just isn't. And it shouldn't take too long to make that reality known. Klitschko KO 6.”
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Klitschko)
“Klitschko TKO5 Pinata. Yes I said Pinata because that's what he will be when he fights Klitschko.”
- Ernie Gabion (Klitschko)
"Klitschko TKO6. I think Klitschko breaks Pianeta down early with the jab, and when Pianeta's head movement starts slowing down, the right cross will come through the guard and finish the job. Pianeta's a big southpaw, but he's more of a boxer than puncher, and I just doubt he'll display enough power to gain Klitschko's respect.”
- Ryan Maquinana (Klitschko)
“This will likely play out like most Klitschko fights. Lots of powerful jabs early, wearing down Pianeta, and then Vlad will begin to unleash his right more frequently later in the fight. Mid to late round stoppage. Klitschko by KO 8.”
- Richard Najdowski (Klitschko)
“At 37, Wladimir remains in his zone. Pianeta has size and youth and should make for a solid few rounds, but he's never eaten a right hand like Klitschko's and, at some point, he's going to sleep.”
- Cliff Rold (Klitschko)
“Klitschko TKO9 - Nothing has prepared Pianeta for this fight and it will show. The fight goes a bit long as Wladimir chooses to work diligently behind his jab. He finally puts his opponent away in the 9th round with a monster right hand.”
- Luis Sandoval (Klitschko)
“Francesco Pianeta is a brave guy and a very nice one - it's almost impossible to root against this cancer survivor. The German Italian will produce a spirited effort but at the end of the day he will come well short of dealing Wladimir his first loss in years. As usual, the Bigger Bro will slowly jab Pianet into submission before putting him down a couple of times before the stoppage or finishing him with one righthanded showbreaker.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Klitschko)
Totals: Wladimir Klitschko 9, Francisco Pianeta 0
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox