It's been more than nine years since Wladimir Klitschko lost a fight. While undefeated challenger Francesco Pianeta is hoping to bring that impressive streak to an end, he simply doesn't have the power necessary to upset the dominant heavyweight champion.
Klitschko holds a 59-3 career record with 50 knockouts. Just as importantly, all three of his losses came by knockout. It illustrates the only way to make serious inroads against him is to match him punch for punch and attempt to wear him down.
Despite his unblemished record, Pianeta isn't a fighter prepared to outlast Klitschko in that type of battle. Just 15 of his 28 victories have come by knockout. Two of his last three wins came by decision against fighters nowhere near the level of the Ukrainian superstar.
The "Italian Ace" is a well-rounded fighter who's proven terrific at identifying and attacking an opponent's weakness. He's never faced a challenge like he will today, though. This represent a major step up for the southpaw.
His best option is using the most aggressive game plan possible. Yes, it will put him at risk of an early knockout, but it's really the only way he has any chance of pulling off the massive shocker. If he tries to sit back and extend the fight, Klitschko will dominate from start to finish.
What's your prediction?
Pianeta doesn't have to look any further than Klitschko's last fight for an example of that. Mariusz Wach was able to survive 12 rounds with the longtime champion, but he was never seriously in the bout. It was a lopsided decision.
If Pianeta fights conservatively, replicating that result is the best he could hope to accomplish. To at least give himself a puncher's chance, he must take some risks and try to catch "Dr. Steelhammer" with a couple big shots early.
That said, it would take a perfect storm for him to pull off the upset. Klitschko is simply too powerful, too experienced and too technically sound to let a lesser fighter beat him. That's the only way a boxer can close in on a decade without a loss.
Expect the champ to dictate the pace from the start. He will use his size and reach to keep Pianeta at a safe distance. It shouldn't take long before the impact of his power starts to show and puts him in position to score the knockout.
By the middle rounds, Pianeta should be worn down from tying to keep pace. At that point, Klitschko will be able to show off why he's been the champ for so long with a flurry of offense.
It will lead to a knockout victory and yet another title defense for Klitschko.