By Clive Bernath: Frenchman Anthony Mezaache recovered from a first round knockdown to claim the European lightweight title from champion Jonathon Thaxton at the Norwich Showground in Norfolk on Saturday night.
The 30 year-old from Paris, who was floored with a right hook to the side of the head, rallied in the second half of the fight to claim a unanimous, though highly debatable 12 round points win by scores of 115-112, 115-111 and 114-113
Mezaache’s victory was all the more remarkable because he was three points down after the first round, two for the knockdown and a one point deduction for deliberately spitting out his gumshield in order to buy time to recover.
It was indeed a fight of two halves with Thaxton building up an early lead by virtue of his superior firepower and relentless stalking of the elusive French challenger. But as the champion began to tire, Mezaache grew in confidence, stood firm and began rocking Thaxton’s head back with a variety of accurate left jabs and right hands.
As the champion, Thaxton can count himself a little unlucky at having his title ripped from him after such a close highly competitive fight. But as always the local hero was gracious in defeat. Talking to ITV Sport the 34 year-old said: “ I don’t see how he won as clearly as he did but that’s boxing. He did his homework, he was the better man on the night.
“I had a great camp and have no excuses. I’ll come back, I’m a true warrior and I’ll be back.”
The champion got off to a perfect start in the opening round, flooring Mezaache with right hook that struck Mezaache just behind the ear. Mezaache rose in time to beat the count but was on shaky legs, at which point he deliberately appeared to spit out his gumshield.
The next couple of rounds saw Thaxton stalking Mezaache, looking for the big right hook to try and repeat his efforts of the opening session. And it appeared as though it was only a matter of time before Thaxton got the job done. But in the fifth round it was the non punching Mezaache who buckled the legs of Thaxton with a right hand and in turn changed the momentum of the fight.
By the sixth round Thaxton seemed far too anxious to land the big punch and was now looking very tired and getting caught with more punches in the sixth round than he did in all the previous five.
By the eighth round Mezaache was catching the champion at will as Thaxton was forced to dig deeper and deeper in order to punch on equal terms with the younger and fresher challenger.
By the ninth round Mezaache could not miss Thaxton with the jab. Thaxton was badly bruised under the left eye and by the time the round had ended a deep cut had appeared.
In the 10th Mezaache wobbled Thaxton with the right hand and for the first time in the fight came off second best in the exchanges. Mezaache was also rocked as both took heavy shots in the last third of the round and both men defiantly raised their arms when the bell sounded.
A massive left hand wobbled Mezaache in the 11th round but Thaxton was so tired he could not follow it up. It was indeed a very competitive and close round but Mezaache looked to have just edged it.
The 12th round saw both fighters going toe to toe . Mezaache, with blood flowing freely below his right eye, looked the fresher and busier in the last but it was that close and difficult at this stage determine a winner. Both men raised their arms in triumph after the final bell and it was a shame there had to be a loser.
February 28, 2009