BOXING: No armchair ride for gutsy Couch

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The Independent Online
JANE COUCH successfully defended her Women's International Boxing Federation welterweight title with a unanimous points decision over the Dutch challenger Marischa Sjauw at the Thornaby Pavilion in Middlesbrough on Saturday.

In doing so, Britain's only professional female boxer also claimed the vacant World Boxing Federation title, but of greater significance was the quality of the overall performance. Women's boxing needed the two fighters to put on a good show to convince the doubters; Couch and Sjauwobliged with a spirited display over 10 rounds which was well received by a crowd of 1,200.

It was in sharp contrast to Couch's British debut against the German teenager Simone Lukic last November. That was a farce, but this was a real battle. Couch bled heavily from a cut on the hairline after a clash of heads, and both women were exhausted from their efforts.

"This is what all my fights are like, except for that last one," said the 31-year-old from Fleetwood in Lancashire. "It's always a war - I never seem to have it easy. She was much stronger than me but I did enough to deserve the decision. Holding on to my title means more to me than anything."

Neither boxer was unable to establish any dominance at first, but by the ninth they had virtually punched themselves to a standstill, Couch holding her nerve to survive a testing finale.

Many of the crowd had come to experience the novelty of female boxing. In the end, they showed their appreciation of two highly motivated, well-trained athletes.

In the United States, Mike Tyson was put in an isolation cell after throwing a television in gaol on Saturday night. Tyson, 32, was imprisoned for a year earlier this month for assaulting two men after a traffic accident.

Roberto Duran,48, has had his latest fight cancelled because he weighed in for his contest with Argentina's Omar Gonzalez 6kg over the limit.