Gianluca Branco has moved a step closer to facing former interim world title challenger Leonard Bundu following the conclusion of purse bids for the European welterweight title clash.
The Italian veteran had initially agreed to a voluntary defense against Paulie Malignaggi on the Anthony Joshua v Dillian Whyte undercard earlier this month but pulled out in favour of solely facing his mandatory challenger.
Two-weight world ruler Malignaggi eventually went on to win the EU version of the championship at the O2 Arena, although accused Branco of running scared for not going through with their agreed London bout.
Branco will now be pitted against compatriot Bundu in a huge fight for his country after the bids were claimed by the challenger’s promoter Boxe Loreni to stage the contest – likely to be in the first quarter of 2016.
Bundu, 41, lost out to Keith Thurman when facing the hard-hitting American in December 2014 but has since launched a successful comeback to set-up the all-Italy battle in a bid to reclaim his old belt.
‘The Lion’ held the title from 2011 to 2014, without ever losing it in the ring, and will probably go into the Branco encounter as a slight favourite as 45 year-old Branco has been largely inactive over the past two years.