A European welterweight title fight between current champion Gianluca Branco and Paulie Malignaggi is on the cards, OPI promoter Christian Cherchi exclusively revealed to WBN on Monday.
Italian veteran Branco, 44, and former world title holder Malignaggi, who is of Italian descent, are set to clash in the United States meaning a potential title defense against compatriot Gianluca Frezza is now off the table.
Frezza was due to challenge Branco in late April or early May until the possibility of a higher profile encounter with Malignaggi came about and Cherchi then decided not to pursue the voluntary contest any further.
“We are working on the Gianluca Branco versus Paulie Malignaggi for the European title and we will not do the fight with Gianluca Frezza,” Cherchi told World Boxing News.
“All we are waiting for is the date and the venue from the American promoter. We have approval from the EBU and we know that the fight will be in the US,” he added.
Malignaggi has turned to the coveted EBU belt following his world title defeat to Shawn Porter in April 2014 in a bid to fulfil one of his goals which is directly linked to his proud Italian heritage. ‘The Magic Man’ frequently pays homage to his ancestors homeland by following the national football (soccer) team passionately and regularly engages with fans on the subject on his social media account.
The 34 year-old, who was rumoured to be considering retirement, will go into any secured bout with Branco a heavy favorite to prevail, which could in turn lead to a match-up in the UK with mandatory challenger Frankie Gavin.
Gavin has stated his intention to meet the winner of the prospective European battle, whilst Malignaggi is known to be keen on a return to the UK following his victory over Lovemore Ndou back in 2008 after gaining a legion of British fans.