Berlin: Challenger Francesco Pianeta hopes to end Germany`s 83-year wait for a world heavyweight champion on Saturday when he fights champion Ruslan Chagaev for the WBA belt.
Heavyweight legend Max Schmeling, who died aged 99 in 2005, was the last German to hold a world heavyweight belt in 1932, when he lost to Jack Sharkey, and the 30-year-old Pianeta, the son of Italian immigrants, wants a world title at the second attempt.
Pianeta is the fifth German since the Schmeling era to fight for a world belt after Axel Schulz, who had three title bouts in the 1990s, Luan Krasniqi (in 2005), Marco Huck (2012) and Manuel Charr (2012).
After undisputed heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko was promoted to the WBA`s `Super` champion in 2011, Chagaev will defend the World Boxing Association belt he won last year in Magdeburg on Saturday with both fighters having lost to Klitschko.
Pianeta, the German and European heavyweight champion, suffered the only defeat in his 34 professional bouts in 2013 on a technical knock-out after being put on the canvas three-times by Klitschko.
The 30-year-old Pianeta is aware of the historical significance of following in Schmeling`s footsteps, but winning the bout is all that matters.
"It is an honour for me to be compared to such a man," he told SID, an AFP subsidiary.
"But I haven`t given much thought to it. For me, the most important thing is to win the fight."
Having been born in Italy, Gelsenkirchen-based Pianeta only received his German passport four months ago after being urged to apply by his promoter.
Both fighters have similar records with Hamburg-based Chagaev having won 33 bouts with 20 KOs, two defeats and a draw, while Pianeta has 31 wins, 17 KOs, a defeat and a draw, but the challenger has a 17cm height advantage and is seven years younger.
The 37-year-old Uzbekistan-born Chagaev, who has been nicknamed `White Tyson` first won the WBA world title in 2007 when he beat Russian giant Nikolay Valuev on points, but then lost to Klitschko in 2009 to suffer the first defeat of his career.
He was defeated on a unanimous decision by Alexander Povetkin in 2011, but has bounced back with six straight wins including a points win over USA boxer Fres Oquendo in Grozny, Russia, last year to claim back the WBA belt.
"I`ve prepared myself thoroughly for the last three months, with two months in Miami and the past four weeks in Hamburg. I am one thousand percent ready for this," insisted Chagaev.