By Francisco Salazar
Looks like bantamweights Leo Santa Cruz and Vusi Malinga are scheduled to meet for a vacant world title belt, manager Cameron Dunkin told Fightnews.com last week. “The fight has been made,” said Dunkin, who has managed Santa Cruz from the beginning of his career. “We hope that (South African promoter) Branco (Milenkovic) accepts the fight or it could go to a purse bid. Golden Boy (Promotions) made a lucrative offer to him.
Santa Cruz and Malinga will be fighting for the vacant IBF bantamweight title that was held by previous title holder Abner Mares, who vacated the title in February. Mares moved up in weight to fight Eric Morel for the WBC 122-pound title on Saturday night. Dunkin also told Fightnews.com that Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Santa Cruz, told him about three dates when the fight could take place: May 26th, June 23rd, or June 29th.
The fight could land on June 23rd, which coincides with the Golden Boy Promotions-card taking place at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, which will be headlined by Victor Ortiz taking on Andre Berto.
Santa Cruz, (19-0-1, 11 KOs) from Lincoln Heights, CA, is currently ranked number six by the IBF. He stopped Alejandro Hernandez early in the fourth round in his last bout in January in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. He has stopped his last nine opponents in a row.
Santa Cruz’s best victory to date was a fifth round knockout over former world title holder Jose Lopez last June at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA.
Malinga, (20-3-1, 12 KOs) from Johannesburg, South Africa, is the number one-ranked bantamweight fighter, according to the IBF. He was victorious in his last bout, winning a 12 round unanimous decision over Michael Domingo in October of 2010, which was an IBF bantamweight title eliminator.
Malinga lost two of his first three professional fights, before going on an 18-bout unbeaten streak that was snapped when he was stopped by Hozumi Hasegawa in March of 2009. Including his victory over Domingo, Malinga has won his last two bouts.