By Ron Jackson
Lubabalo Msuthu retained his World Boxing Foundation bantamweight belt with a hard earned 12 round points decision over Nick Otieno of Kenya at the Orient Theatre in East London on Friday night. Judges Andile Matika and Darryl Ribbink scored the fight 116-113 and 116-114 whilst judge Allan Matakane was off the mark with a 119-109 card.
The southpaw Msuthu 53.30 kg who was making his first defence possibly won the first six rounds as he boxed from behind his right jab to pile up the points against the shorter Otieno 52.70 kg.
Msuthu’s right eye became rather puffy from the third round and from round seven he was a one-eyed fighter. He also bled from the nose and showed commendable courage as he began to tire in the later rounds.
Handicapped by the damage to his right eye and also on tired legs Msuthu was warned for holding and pushing in rounds eleven and twelve by referee Ace Makaluza who had an easy nights work in a clean fight.
From round seven the stocky Otieno, 33, picked up the pace as he began to close the gap and score with some good right hands.
Musuthu, from Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape, who is 26 did not show any of his vaunted punching power and will have to improve significantly against better class opponents.
Msuthu improved his record to 12-2-1; 10 and Otieno dropped to 18-3; 7.
The show was presented by Siphato Handi of Mamli Promotions.
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Takalani Ndlovu v Kiki Martinez (IBF jr featherweight eliminator), Johannesburg