Showtime's June 2 quadrupleheader is rounding into shape. The top three fights at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., are set, and now the opening fight is close to being done as well.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, who is co-promoting the event, told ESPN.com on Monday that the bout he is working to finalize would pit Golden Boy fighter Leo Santa Cruz against South Africa's Vusi Malinga for the bantamweight belt that Abner Mares recently vacated in order to move up in weight.
"We're trying to finalize it," Schaefer said. "We've agreed on everything with [Malinga promoter Branco Milenkovic] and now we're just trying to get it signed. We made a strong offer and we've done business with Branco before. We've never had problems. We treat each other with respect."
Santa Cruz (19-0-1, 11 KOs), who is from Mexico but lives in Southern California, is one of Golden Boy's best young fighters. The 23-year-old has been fighting on Golden Boy's Televisa cards in Mexico and is developing a bit of a following in his home country, even though he hasn't been seen by an American audience. Malinga (20-3-1, 12 KOs) has won two fights in a row since his only previous title shot, a first-round knockout loss to Hozumi Hasegawa in Japan in 2009.
Cruiserweight Antonio Tarver (29-6, 20 KOs), the former light heavyweight champ and now also a Showtime broadcaster, tops the card in a fight against Lateef Kayode (18-0, 14 KOs). The co-feature is a crossroads bout between veteran middleweight contender Winky Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs), the former undisputed junior middleweight champion returning from a three-year layoff, and rising contender "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin (26-0, 20 KOs).
Also on the card, junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout (24-0, 14 KOs) will defend against Delvin Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KOs).
It remains to be seen if Trout, whom Schaefer calls "one of the best-kept secrets in boxing," will still fight Sergiy Dzinziruk in a bout supposedly agreed to for Aug. 25 on HBO, although it seems unlikely. According to Dzinziruk co-promoters Artie Pelullo and Gary Shaw, they made a deal for the bout with Trout promoter Greg Cohen and were in the process of exchanging paperwork. However, that was before Trout signed with Al Haymon last week. (Shaw is involved with Trout for his next fight because of options he holds.)
Trout told me he would like to come right back for the HBO fight against Dzinziruk, assuming he beats Rodriguez. He said he took the June 2 fight because he didn't want to have to wait until August to fight.
"Depending on the outcome," Trout said, "I would love to come back in August."