It appears Paulie Malignaggi has more viable options than one might expect at this stage of his career. Not only does he look to be in line for a prime time fight with Danny Garia on August 1st, he's also the mandatory challenger for the European welterweight title, a belt Malignaggi is said to have coveted for quite some time now.
"I have an Italian passport but not the necessary amount of fights in Europe to be eligible (five of previous ten). Out of respect for my past accomplishments, the EBU is allowing me this chance because the passport is probably the most important piece of the puzzle."
"I'm very appreciative because I am European by blood. My family emigrated fromto New York, and I am the first member of my direct family born outside of Italy. I lived there as a child and I feel a very big connection to Europe. Winning that title would make this connection more legitimate to me, and to the public."
I suppose Paulie having the ability to choose whether he wants to take the local PBC fight or travel overseas to fulfill a nostalgic purpose is one of those good problems to have. Should he go for the European title, he'll have to to face Gianluca Branco (49-3-1, 24 KOs) and confirm the fight by month's end to have his mandatory status upheld. Branco would obviously be much easier pickins for Paulie than Garcia as the three most recognizable names on his resume are all losses to Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, and Matthew Hatton. But Paulie is hoping to work out a way to get the best of both worlds.
"From what I've been told, I'm the EBU mandatory challenger until the end of October but I have options here in the U.S. so there are decisions to make. If I'm lucky I can squeeze in a big fight over here and get the European title shot before my mandatory position expires."
How about it fans, how much pride would you take in having Paulie Malignaggi as your European Champion?