Vusi Malinga is confident that he will beat Leo Santa Cruz to win the IBF bantamweight title this weekend.
The South African southpaw, who meets the undefeated Mexican in Los Angeles on Saturday night, said on Thursday, "I know I'm going to win this fight. It's my time to win this title.
"It's an important fight for me. I've been waiting for this opportunity for a long time," Malinga said. "I have been training well and I think I'm going to take the title."
Malinga, who has a record of 20-3, with one draw and 12 knockouts, should test Santa Cruz, who stands at 19-0, with one draw and 11 knockouts.
They fight for the title that Mexico's Abner Mares relinquished last month when he won the WBC super-bantamweight title.
Malinga comes into the fight after a 19-month layoff since a unanimous 12-round decision over Filipino Michael Domingo in a bout that set him up for a title shot.
He suffered his first loss since 2000 in his only prior world title fight three years ago when he was stopped in the first round by Japan's Hozumi Hasegawa in 2009 at Kobe, Japan.
Santa Cruz has fought five times since Malinga last stepped into the ring and none of the fights have gone the distance. Eight resulted in knockout wins. His most recent outing ended in the fourth round when Mexico's Alejandro Hernandez retired with a hand injury.
The only blemish on the 23-year-old Santa Cruz's record was a four-round draw in his second professional fight in 2007. This will be his first world title bout.
"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 Malinga is 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."
On the same card, Austin Trout takes on Dominican super-welterweight Delvin Rodriguez. Another American, Winky Wright, faces unbeaten middleweight Peter Quillin and southpaw Antonio Tarver, also from the US, will fight Nigerian Lateef Kayode in a cruiserweight bout. Tags: Leo Santa Cruz , Santa Cruz-Malinga , Santa Cruz vs Malinga