by Ronnie Nathanielsz
WBO No.2 ranked bantamweight Diarh Gabutan faces Vusi “Marvelous” Malinga of South Africa in a IBF bantamweight title eliminator at Carnival City in Brakpan, South Africa on March 23.
The 24 year old Gabutan, nicknamed “Die Hard” has a record of 18-1-2 with 9 knockouts while Malinga who is 33 has a record of 20-4-1 with 12 knockouts. Both fighters are southpaws.
Well-known promoter Branco Milenkovic told BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard that in the fight Malinga “will take a first step towards challenging for a third major world title.”
The 5’7” Malinga’s return to the ring will form part of Branco Sports Production (BSP) fight card dubbed “African Glory 3” featuring the local shootout between Jeffrey Mathebula and Takalani Ndlovu for the IBF junior featherweight eliminator.
Malinga hasn’t been in the ring since what Milenkovic described as “ his gallant losing effort against Mexican star Leo Santa Cruz in an IBF bantamweight title in June last year in a Showtime-televised tournament in Home Depot Centre in Carson, California US.”
Although he lost to Cruz, Milenkovic said Malinga “did not disappoint as he took the unbeaten whirlwind Mexican the distance, a feat only achieved by Alberto Guevara while two others Eric Morel and Victor Zaleta were crushed inside the distance in subsequent fights.”
The influential promoter thanked the IBF which kept him at seventh spot which would enable him to earn a title shot if he wins against Gabutan.”
Although Malinga will be fighting in a venue which is a stone’s throw from his home, Milenkovic made it clear “he will not have an easy sailing against the Filipino who has youth on his side and is ranked No. 8 IBF but occupies a loftier No.2 spot in the WBO and is expected to be elevated to the first after Namibian Paulus Ambunda who was No.1 won the title by dethroning Pungluang Sor Singyu last weekend.
Malinga beat the now retired Michael Domingo in a title eliminator on October 30, 2010 winning a unanimous twelve round decision while Gabutan won the Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation vacant 118 pound belt with a twelve round unanimous decision over Jilo Merlin on July 17, 2010 and had six successful title defenses.
In his last fight Gabutan scored a 2nd round TKO over Lande Olin whom he dropped in rounds one and two. Olin was three pounds over the limit and was forced to wear ten ounce gloves.