'Malinga' fights for bantam title
South African southpaw Vusi Malinga will fight Mexico's undefeated
Leo Santa Cruz for the vacant International Boxing Federation
bantamweight title on a Saturday card of four headline fights.
Malinga, 20-3 with one drawn and 12 knockouts, will test Santa Cruz,
19-0 with one drawn and 11 knockouts, for a crown that was vacated by
Mexico's Abner Mares last month when he won the World Boxing Council
super bantamweight title.
Malinga comes into the fight after a 19-month layoff since off a
unanimous 12-round decision over Filipino Michael Domingo that assured
him a title bout.
"It's an important fight for me and I've been waiting for this
opportunity for a long time," Malinga said.
"I'm training very well and I think I'm going to take the title."
Malinga suffered his first loss since 2000 in his only prior world title
fight three years ago. The South African was stopped in the first round
by Japan's Hozumi Hasegawa in 2009 at Kobe, Japan.
"I know I'm going to win this fight," Malinga said. "I think it's my
time to win this title."
Santa Cruz has fought five times since Malinga last stepped into the
ring and none of the fights have gone the distance, eight of them
knockout triumphs and the most recent a fourth-round retirement by
Mexico's Alejandro Hernandez with a right hand injury. The only blemish
on Santa Cruz's record was a four-round draw in his second pro fight
back in 2007 when he was 18.
This will be the first world title bout for the 23-year-old fighter,
"I just want to win this title. Ever since I was a little kid my dream
was to win a world championship," Santa Cruz said.
"I think he's the toughest fighter I've faced. I don't think his
layoff will affect him. He's always been in the gym and sparring. He's a
good fighter and he looks strong. He has a good uppercut. I've been
learning how to fight him.
"I'm not going to try and look for the knockout. I'm just going to
try and win."
Also on the fight card is US southpaw Austin Trout against Dominican
super welterweight Delvin Rodriguez, US southpaw Winky Wright against
unbeaten US middleweight Peter Quillin and US southpaw Antonio Tarver in
a cruiserweight bout against Nigerian Lateef Kayode. AFP