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The Assassin-slayer
By Ewan Whyte
December 11, 2007

     
   
   
   
   

She entered the ring with a "little smile" for her inner circle – a "rictus of confidence" Thomas Simon of L'Est Républicain called it – "that contrasted starkly with the dour concentration of the French woman." There was a reason, too, for the confidence. "I'm a far better boxer than Mathis," Couch told This is Bristol last week. "She might have a big punch, but she's going to have to catch up with me if she wants to use it. She hasn't been in with anyone with my technique before now and I know I have the beating of her."

 

So the "Fleetwood Assassin" knew she had the beating of the Frenchwoman. And Mathis a mother too! Where was Sarko, we wondered? Was he just going to let this happen?

 

We're so used, you see, here in France, to our president leaping into airplanes or issuing appeals whenever French citizens (Colombians… Spaniards… Romanians…) are in jeopardy that his laissez-faire attitude on this occasion was not only dismaying but baffling. Had he been paid off? we wondered. Was that the meaning of the 'little smile'?

 

We needn't have worried. In the time it takes to say "Paris vaut bien une messe", the world champion had sandblasted the smirk off Couch's face. It was like the Cheshire Cat, only in reverse. First the grin. Then the rest of her. And the Fleetwood Assassin was…er… histoire.

 

She got off lightly. (Compared to Ravaillac) She took a clobbering, admittedly, in the first round, but the second was only 30 seconds old when the referee decided he'd seen enough and sprang to her rescue, sparing Couch "an even more ignominious fate", as Simon put it. By this time, she'd begun to "totter ominously", he says, "but nonetheless protested the stoppage". "It's true the decision was a bit hard on her," conceded Mathis afterwards, "but I was about to finish her off anyway... She'd have gone down seconds later."

 

Mathis, who (we read) was "scarcely grazed" in the first round and emerged from the second "less marked than if she'd been at the beautician's", was disappointed the Englishwoman hadn't given her more of a workout. "I need to fight," she said, "but when you get a chance to finish a match, you finish it. …. What I can't understand is how she lasted ten rounds with Clampitt."

 

On the same bill, Myriam Lamare defeated Daniela David of Romania in the fourth, again by referee's stoppage, and Aziza Oubaita pipped Simona Pencakova of Slovakia on points.

 

Venue: Le Cannet (France) 8th December 2007

 
     
     
   
 
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