By Ron Jackson
Lubabalo Msuthu (11-2-1, 10 KOs) makes the first defense of his World Boxing Foundation bantamweight belt when he meets Nick Otieno of Kenya at the Orient Theatre in East London on Friday night.
The southpaw Msuthu from Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape won a bronze medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games before making his pro debut on October 1, 2004 with a first round stoppage over Mthintheli Kewuti.
In 2005 he ran up a string of inside the distance victories over Khayalethu Ngesi, Mawanda Ntloko, Thandile November, Luvuyo Kope and Charles Golulul, before being outpointed over four rounds by Unathi Gqkoma in January 2006.
Msuthu, 26, then fought to a technical draw with Nkosinathi Tshinavhe before scoring victories over Zilindile Kafatyi, Bongani Manzi and former IBO super bantamweight and SA junior bantamweight champion Simon Ramoni.
In December 2007 he challenged Simphiwe Vetyeka for the SA bantamweight title, but Vetyeka was too experienced for him and won on a seventh round stoppage.
After scoring a win over Ntobeko Duma in July 2008 he went on to win the vacant World Boxing Foundation belt in November of the same year when he knocked out Jose Cabrera from Mexico in the seventh round.
Otieno who has a reported record of 18-2, 7 KOs and whose birth name is Nicodemus Otieno Okudo made his pro debut in June 2005 with a second round stoppage win over Charles Kibuku.
He then ran up an unbeaten streak of thirteen wins in Kenya before travelling to Ekaterinburg in Russia to face Eduardo Garcia for the IBF International bantamweight title. In a close fight he was beaten on a majority decision over 12 rounds.
His only other loss was in the Philippines against the capable Z Gorres who outpointed him over 10 rounds.
In his most recent fight in November last year Otieno outpointed Ibrahim Adewale to win the vacant WBC International and African Boxing Union bantamweight titles.
The South African could be in for a hard night’s work.