Ex-world champion Paulie Malignaggi’s dream of winning the European title is closer than ever to becoming a reality after the EBU approved the Italian-American as the next challenger to welterweight title holder Gianluca Branco.
Malignaggi was born in New York of Italian descent, but spent some of his early years in Syracuse, Sicily and has a deep affiliation with the country of his forefathers. Malignaggi has a passion for the national sport of soccer and regularly follows the Italian national team which has ultimately led to Malignaggi wanting to hold the European title before his career comes to an end.
Previously a recognised title holder at 140 and 147lbs, Malignaggi last fought in April 2014 when dropped and stopped by Shawn Porter, and despite being linked to higher profile fights in the US, looks set to head to Europe for his 40th professional bout.
A fight with 44 year-old compatriot Branco, potentially on Italian soil, is now in the offing and has a tentative date sometime in October lined up for the what will be an emotional homecoming for Malignaggi – who is ten years the champions’ junior.
‘The Magic Man’ has fought in Europe twice before and was successful on both occasions, defeating Lovemore Ndou in the UK back in 2008 before regaining the world title in the Ukraine against Vyacheslav Senchenko in 2012.
A recent encounter with fellow New Yorker Danny O’Connor fell through when Malignaggi suffered a cut in training.