By Jake Donovan
Returning to the ring for the first time in more than a year since claiming a secondary heavyweight belt, Ruslan Chagaev is finally ready to make his first defense. It comes against Francesco Pianeta, with the pair of heavyweights set to square off Saturday evening in Magdeburg, Germany.
Chagaev (33-2-1, 20KOs) tipped the scales at a beefy 246 lbs., having fought at or around that weight for the past few years. Still, it’s not a good look on the 5’11” southpaw, particularly compared to his much taller challenger, as the 6’5” Pianeta came in at a trim 242.5 lbs. for his second title shot.
Saturday’s bout will mark the first defense of the title Chagaev claimed under dubious circumstances just over a year ago. His vacant title win over Oquendo was mired in controversy both before and after the bout, spawning protests and lawsuits.
Oquendo managed one legal win, as he will be next in line to face the winner as per orders from the World Boxing Association, who recognizes Chagaev as its secondary titlist (World heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko holds the real title). The WBA also named a second mandatory challenger, with Lucas Browne to follow Ouqnedo in the pecking order of future title contenders.
Pianeta (31-1-1, 17KOs), 30, comes in riding a three-fight win streak following the lone loss of his career, a 6th round stoppage versus Klitschko last May.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox