Couch strikes blow for women

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The Independent Online
Jane Couch not only successfully defended her women's International Boxing Federation welterweight title here on Sunday night, she also captured the imagination of a sceptical American audience with an impressive combination of ring craft and flair in stopping the brave but limited American Andrea DeSong in the seventh of their scheduled 10-round affair.

However, the 28-year-old fisherman's daughter from Fleetwood is no longer the United Kingdom's sole female world champion, having been joined by Cheryl Robertson of West Bromwich, who out-pointed Suzanne Riccio-Major to claim the bantamweight title.

The two English women return home today with an even more formidable fight on their hands: they plan to challenge the British Boxing Board of Control to let them participate in a male promotion, a development the Board has resisted to date.

There was certainly no doubting the technical skills on display. Under fire from the opening bell, Couch kept her cool to pick the Ohio woman apart with well-placed head and body shots.

Under the guidance of her trainer, the Bristol farmer Tex Woodward, the Lancastrian has progressed from the strong but crude brawler who won her title last May into a competent professional boxer. DeSong simply had no answer, and after taking two standing eight counts in the seventh, subsided gratefully into the arms of the referee.

Equally impressive was the performance of Robertson, a diminutive, soft- spoken personnel officer who came from behind to take a unanimous verdict. A former kick-boxer, Robertson landed a withering right hand in the sixth to send Riccio-Major crashing to the canvas. Although she beat the count, Robertson dominated the remainder of the affair. It was the Midlander's second attempt at the world title, having been out-pointed by the German Regina Halmich for the flyweight crown last year.

A third European success, for Deirdre Gogarty, who claimed the super- feather-weight belt from Bonnie Canino, demonstrated how far women boxers have advanced technically. Canino was all rugged hostility, but the Dubliner simply out-boxed her to take a unanimous decision.