The Interview: Francesco Pianeta

Francesco Pianeta is a nice man. This interview is my first ever; conducted via Instagram and somewhat disrupted by a language barrier. The answers thus were not long and the conversation not as in-depth as I would have liked but I am more than grateful for his time.

At a young age, in 1990, the Italian born Pianeta would move to Germany with his family: “I was six years old when we came to Germany, it was a time without much money but it was a great time.” A new life and a new beginning saw him turn to combat early on with an inspiration akin to many of that generation: “We saw the Rocky films, I like these the best. This was my inspiration.” But his fighting career didn’t start in boxing, with a Muay Thai record of 9-1 his eyes were elsewhere in the beginning: “I was an amateur boxer and Manuel Charr [Heavyweight boxer that once challenged Alexander Povetkin for the WBC title] brought me to Thai-boxing, I do both things parallel.”

In 2005 Francesco Pianeta bit the bullet and turned professional in his trade: “To this day I only have one aim, to become World champion.” It seemed a reasonable aim as just three years in, in 2008, he knocked out Donnell Wiggins to win the vacant WBC youth heavyweight title and then beat Scott Gammer in the same year to claim the vacant European Union heavyweight title, both victories in his adopted home country of Germany. “Great memories, the fight against Gammer was not easy. At this time I had no experience, I’d never had twelve rounds in the ring! I realised at this point I had to learn again to become the best.”

The southpaw then notched up an impressive twenty-eight fight undefeated record before facing off against one of the heavyweight greats in the form of Wladimir Klitschko in 2013. The Italian born fighter stated ‘it was the biggest experience of his life, but not his biggest fight. He went on to say he won his biggest fight against cancer in 2009’. On Klitschko, Pianeta was full of praise: “My promoter at the time, Ulf Steinforth, called me and told me [I was fighting Klitschko] I was really happy and excited. In my mind I was strong, I felt good, Klitschko was the man with the belts. He had to beat me. He was strong. He was very good and he is one of the greatest champs.”

After a round six stoppage and a noble loss to Klitschko, Pianeta went on to win various titles including the vacant German International heavyweight title and the vacant WBO European heavyweight title. In July 2015 he had another title shot, this time for the WBA heavyweight championship against Ruslan Chagaev, the ‘White Tyson’: “The training before the Chagaev fight was bad, I had bad problems. After the fight I felt bad, I needed surgery. After the surgery I gave my best.”

After this loss his career was staggering, fighting six more times before getting the call to become part of Tyson Fury’s famous comeback: “The fight against Fury was good, I felt good. The plan was to pin Fury and give him less chances, he fought good and is a tough boxer. The rating at the end with 100-90 was not correct, he didn’t win all the rounds. But it’s ok… The boxer not fighting in their home country has a disadvantage.”

With inspiring battles against, not only Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury, but also emigration and cancer, Francesco Pianeta is a strong man who I wish a lot of luck to in the future: “I ended my career after the Fury fight. I want to have a good time and let’s see what the future will bring.”