The vacant IBF bantamweight title will be up for grabs Saturday when 34-year-old South African Vusi "Marvelous" Malinga (21-4-1, 12 KO) takes on 33-year-old Englishman Stuart "Stuey" Hall (15-2-1, 7 KO).
Jamie McDonnell was the champion, but he was stripped of his title for failing to agree to fight Malinga, the mandatory challenger, in the allotted time frame, per Declan Warrington of the Daily Mail Online.
Malinga has had two previous shots at a world title, but he has failed in both attempts. He was stopped in the first round by Hozumi Hasegawa in 2009. In June 2012, he was defeated by Leo Santa Cruz in a unanimous decision.
Without question, this would appear to be his best chance at accomplishing the feat.
Hall doesn't have a wealth of experience, but he hasn't come completely out of nowhere. He actually battled McDonnell in a competitive bout back in September 2011. Hall lost the fight by unanimous decision, but he was within three points on every one of the judges' scorecards.
Hall figures to be the crowd favorite in this one. The fight takes place in his home country of the United Kingdom, so he'll be motivated by the energy of the fans in attendance.
This bout could very well produce a spirited and memorable scrap. Here's the information needed to catch the fight.
When: Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m, EST
Where: First Direct Arena, Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
TV: Box Nation
Live Stream: LiveSport
The Book on Malinga and Hall
Fighting for His Family
Malinga comes from a fighting family. His uncle, Sugar Boy Malinga, is a former world champion. Because of the success in the sport members of his family have enjoyed, Malinga feels the pressure to perform at a championship level. Due to his age, he knows his opportunities may be fading.
He told Boxing Scene: "It’s very important that I win. I have to win this fight for my father, my family and for everyone back in South Africa."
Aside from the pressure that comes with competing for one of the highest prizes in his sport, Malinga is also carrying the pride of his name and his country. Will he be able to deliver against a tough opponent in his home country?
Looking for Strength from His Countrymen
When speaking to Dennis Hobson of East Side Boxing, Hall made no bones about acknowledging he needs the fans' support against Malinga. He said:
I do like a crowd and I need them behind me. I’m expecting a lot from Darlington to come down, and hopefully the Leeds fans will back me up as well. When things are tough then I do thrive off a crowd, and I will need them in this fight. A big crowd will definitely help me.
Facing an opponent who is so driven to succeed is a tough challenge, but Hall insists he is up for the task. It will be interesting to see what influence the crowd has on the judges—should the bout go the distance.
The key to winning this fight for Malinga will be movement. Against Santa Cruz, he was content to stand in front of his opponent, but he simply couldn't outslug his talented foe. This is his style, so there is little chance he goes in a different direction for this fight.
McDonnell gave Hall a problem by utilizing his movement, jab and boxing skills. When he stayed planted too long, Hall had his moments—though he didn't appear to hurt McDonnell with any of his shots.
Chances are, Hall won't have the power to rock Malinga either. The South African showed a tremendous chin against Santa Cruz. He took a good number of hard right hands but did not wilt. Hall isn't as skilled or powerful as Santa Cruz, thus it is difficult to imagine a scenario where Hall rocks Malinga.
The winner of this bout will be the man that works the body effectively, has the chin to withstand clean shots and the stamina to win the later rounds. I believe that will be Malinga.
The South African will capture his first world title by unanimous decision.
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