Francesco Pianeta Stops Matt Skelton, Retains EBU-EU Heavyweight Crown

by James Slater - Tonight in Germany, 24-year-old 6'5" Italian southpaw Francesco Pianeta retained his European Union heavyweight title for the third time with an 8th-round retirement win over Britain's Matt Skelton. Ahead on points after the eight completed rounds, the unbeaten Italian saw his 42-year-old challenger fail to come out for the 9th; due officially to a hand injury. Pianeta is now 19-0-1(12). Former British, Commonwealth and European champion Skelton is now 22-4(19.).

Stopped for the first time in his career in his last fight, when he was stunned in the 11th-round of a great slugfest with Ireland's tough Martin Rogan, Skelton knew he had a make or break fight on his hands going into tonight's bout - yet after training hard it was not to be for the likeable and gutsy "Bedford Bear." The former kick boxer had his moments against the much younger and good deal taller man, but overall big Matt was too slow and didn't throw enough punches.

Still, it was something of a shock when Skelton failed to come out for the 9th. Interestingly, when Pianata won the EBU-EU title against another U.K fighter in Scott Gammer, back in August of last year, the Italian also won when his opponent remained on his stool at the end of the 8th-round due to a hand injury. But despite the disappointing ending to his winning fight, Pianeta can be proud of his victory - very possibly his best and most meaningful yet as a pro. Last time out, against British-based Pole Albert Sosnowski, the big lefty was held to a draw in a fight many people felt he really lost. Now, in stopping the physically strong former world title challenger, Pianeta can celebrate.

Big things are expected of the German-based big guy, and some interesting fights lay ahead for him. Not a huge puncher despite his intimidating size, Pianeta did trouble the rock-chinned Skelton with some stiff left hands tonight, and it will be interesting to see just how far the young heavyweight can go. Considering how he has been a pro only since July of 2005, Pianeta has sure made good and fast progress. His future looks pretty bright, put it that way.

As for Skelton, who got into boxing at a relatively late age, his future looks less promising. Now having lost three of his last four outings - two inside the distance - Skelton may well decide to call it quits. Should he do so, the 42-year-old would be more than entitled to go out with his head held high. Matt got much further than many people felt he would, and during his career he earned himself wins over good men like Danny Williams, John McDermott, Michael Sprott and Paolo Vidoz.

Article posted on 20.09.2009

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