World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko will defend his four belts against cancer survivor Francesco Pianeta on May 4 in Mannheim, Germany, Klitschko’s management has announced.
The 36-year-old Klitschko will defend his IBF, IBO, Super WBA and WBO belts against the undefeated Pianeta, 28, who has 15 knock-outs and one draw in 28 wins despite having been diagnosed with testicular cancer in late 2009.
Italian-born Pianeta, who grew up in Gelsenkirchen, northwest Germany, underwent surgery in early 2010, making his return to the ring that December, with a first-round knock-out of US fighter Mike Middleton.
This will be his eighth bout since overcoming cancer.
“I was in Wladimir’s camp as a sparring partner last year,” said Pianeta.
“I saw his weaknesses and will use them. I know many experts see me as the underdog but I like this role and will shock the boxing world when I knock out Klitschko.”
Last year Pianeta earned unanimous points wins over ageing former WBC world champion Oliver McCall, 47, of the United States, and South Africa’s Francois Botha, 44, a former world title contender, but Klitschko will be a step up.
“I have great respect for Francesco Pianeta, he is young and is an uncomfortable southpaw to face, plus he has a strong fighting spirit,” said Hamburg-based Klitschko.
The Ukrainian world champion will be looking for his 60th win in his 63rd professional fight, having earned his 50th career knockout against Tony Thompson of the US last July in Berne, Switzerland.
“Pianeta will do everything to achieve his goals. I have been warned and will be preparing very hard with my team,” said Klitschko.