14 February 2013

Uganda: Hotshot Odeke Looks to Extend His Winning Streak

With only two fights under his belt, it may be too early to declare Kenneth Odeke the 'real deal' but closer scrutiny of the fighter's attributes promises a bright career, writes Moses Mugalu.

Saturday night presents another chance for unbeaten Odeke (2-0, 2KOs) to extend his winning start to a promising professional career when he fights Tanzanian Ashraf Suleiman at Lugogo Indoor Stadium.

The scheduled 10-round non-title heavyweight contest is the main event on the card organized by the Uganda Boxing Union (UBU). Going into this fight, 19-year-old has already cut his niche as a 'stylish' knockout specialist. The former national amateur team pugilist has excited fight fans and his managers with the ruthless punishments meted out to Kenyan opponents James Ololo and Kenneth Ayolo in his debut professional career fights.

"It's rare to find heavyweights who are skilled; they are normally about power and aggression but Odeke combines the three aspects and that makes his fights interesting," says Geoffrey 'Evander' Kasule, one of Odeke's promoters

Kasule notes that Odeke's height (over 6"ft) and reach are an added advantaged over most of his opponents. Respected amateur coach Hassan Muhammad of Kampala Boxing Club (KBC) concurs but cautions that Odeke is still work in progress.

"He's a very promising fighter but he needs to work more on his movements in the ring and ability to absorb punches," says the veteran coach, who previously trained as an amateur boxer at Naguru-based East Coast Club.

As an amateur boxer, Odeke stood out as a stylist fighter as he made his way to national level with over seventy victories. Unfortunately, there's no tangible success that Odeke can show for his amateur career success because his breakthrough to the national team (The Bombers) coincided with the administration wrangles that have kept Ugandan boxers out of international competitions since 2008.

And it's against that background that Odeke has vowed to pursue an illustrious professional career. Hours after Wednesday's pre-fight joint press conference, Odeke told The Observer that Suleiman will 'pay dearly for confronting a hungry lion in me.'

"I want to become the best heavyweight in the region, Africa and the whole world so it's dangerous for him," Odeke said

However, if Suleiman's record (three wins, four losses and two draws) is anything to go by, the Tanzanian is a more experienced fighter and that could make the difference over his Ugandan opponent.

The main event and four undercard bouts will be telecast live by local television station, NBS.

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