British Scene: Jamie McDonnell vs Nick Otieno Preview

Dave Oakes previews Saturday's Commonwealth bantamweight title match-up between Jamie McDonnell and Nick Otieno.

Jamie McDonnell makes the first defence of his Commonwealth bantamweight title at the Hillsborough Leisure Centre this Saturday when he takes on Nick Otieno.

McDonnell, 16-2-1 (7 KO’s), has been in great form of late. He’s on a run of eight victories, five of which were inside the distance, and has claimed the British, Commonwealth and European titles along the way.

It’s not just results that have impressed; he’s put in some impressive performances along the way and has shown he’s a maturing boxer. He’s improved his defence immeasurably, has begun to pick his punches better and is showing increased punch power.

He won the Commonwealth title in January last year via a controversial split-decision against Ian Napa but has yet to defend it due to his winning and defending of the European title.

His European adventures have seen him produce a wonderful display against Jerome Arnould in France, make an easy first defence against Rodrigo Bracco and take a close but deserved points victory over Stephane Jamoye.

Otieno, 21-6 (9 KO’s), is a solid operator, although he’s always come up short whenever he’s taken a step-up in class. All of his six losses have come away from home and four of those were against boxers who were bracketed as ‘hot prospects’.

The most notable opponent he’s faced is Z Gorres, the former world title challenger whose promising career was tragically cut short due to a brain injury suffered in the ring. Gorres comprehensively out-boxed Otieno throughout but the spirited Otieno survived to make it to the final bell.

Toughness and durability are definitely Otieno’s strong points, he’s never been stopped and the only time I’ve seen the Kenyan being floored was against Alexander Bakhtin, which seemed to be down to balance as opposed to him being hurt.

McDonnell will have height and reach advantages over the Kenyan and should be able to control the pace of the fight on the outside. Otieno fights in a compact, sometimes crouching style, that can leave him open to uppercuts. He also has a tendency to leap in with his punches, subsequently leaving himself open to counters.

I’m struggling to see anything other than a comfortable win for McDonnell. I’d be surprised if he can stop Otieno, a wide points victory looks the more likely outcome.

e-mail Dave Oakes

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