Vusi Malinga and trainer Lee Beard are confident ahead of the world title fight in Leeds
By Adam Norman: Twitter @SkySportsNorm. Last Updated: 12/12/13 2:47pm
Vusi Malinga believes he is a level above Stuart Hall ahead of their battle for the vacant IBF bantamweight title in Leeds on Saturday week.
And Malinga's view is endorsed by Manchester trainer Lee Beard, who has teamed up with the South African in the past month to put the finishing touches to preparations.
Malinga, 34, has twice fought for world titles, coming up short on both occasions, but his experience could mean the edge over Hall, who himself fell short against Jamie McDonnell and Lee Haskins when fighting beyond domestic level.
"I don't disrespect Stuart Hall but we are not in the same league."
The Darlington man gained a high ranking with the IBF when defeating Sergio Perales earlier this year, but in Malinga he faces another step up in class.
"I believe this title is mine," he told Sky Sports. "I don't disrespect Stuart Hall but we are not in the same league. For this fight I'm more than prepared and I'm 200 percent fit.
"I've been here for three weeks and I'm very fit."
Malinga has only been stopped once in four career losses, when Hozumi Hasegawa knocked him out in the first round of their WBC title clash more than three years ago.
However, there were legitimate excuses for that defeat.
"With Hasegawa the time-difference made all the difference," he said of fighting in Japan. "I couldn't sleep the whole week and couldn't get acclimatised.
"You always have a dream to be world champion, and I knew my chance would come again."
Beard is convinced that Malinga will prove to be on a different level on fight night.
"Stuart says he very strong for the weight but I know that Vusi hits very, very hard and I know he's going to feel Vusi's power."
Beard on Malinga
"Vusi has fought better opposition," he said. "His weight was all wrong for the Hasegawa fight - he was 3lb under the limit - so there was clearly a problem. The time difference was also a major issue.
"But he's been at a higher level, he's travelled the world and fought in the States and Thailand where he got a good win.
"It's not going to effect him coming here, he's comfortable being the away guy and he's just got to do what he needs to win the fight.
"It's a step up for Stuart Hall and it's up to him to raise his game. I don't see him beating Vusi, he's too strong and in great condition. I think the styles will make for a great fight and it's a great opportunity for Stuart and he'll push every second of every round.
"Stuart says he very strong for the weight but I know that Vusi hits very, very hard and I know he's going to feel Vusi's power. He's has power in both hands and he does the basics very well.
"Stuart doesn't have that size advantage he usually has, and I think the level that Vusi's been at will begin to show as the fight progresses."