By Edward Chaykosvky
According to promoter Branco Milenkovic, a deal is nearly complete for South Africa's Vusi Malinga to face Leo Santa Cruz as the televised opener of Showtime's June 2 quadrupleheader at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Branco is trying to reach a deal with Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who promotes Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz (19-0-1, 11KOs) vs. Malinga (20-3-1, 12 KOs) would be for the vacant IBF bantamweight title which Abner Mares vacated before moving up in weight.
"We are talking to Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer and we hope to clinch a deal by the end of next week," Milenkovic told Sowetan Live. "Vusi has been working hard to get this fight. He was mandated to challenge Abner and we have been negotiating for that fight for more than a year and initially he declined. He has moved up the division. It's time for Vusi, who is the No 1 mandatory challenger, to get his world title. I have no doubt he will make us proud by winning it."
Other fights on the card include IBO cruiserweight champion Antonio Tarver (29-6, 20 KOs) against Lateef Kayode (18-0, 14 KOs), former champion Winky Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs) facing "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin (26-0, 20 KOs) - and Austin Trout (24-0, 14 KOs) defending his WBA "regular" 154-pound title against Delvin Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KOs).