Jane Couch may be approaching 40, but is still a fearsome proposition.

The most recognisable female boxer in Britain returns for her second bout in Birmingham next month, against Ukraine's Elena Tverdokhleb.

The Fleetwood Assassin has held won six world titles during her career in a sport that still divides opinion like no other.

Boxing is, without doubt, one of the most brutal sports known to man. A predominantly male audience exuding testosterone cram sweaty halls nationwide, revelling in acts of controlled violence.

Couch was a notorious street brawler who was expelled from school in Blackpool and was on the road to nowhere until her first professional fight in 1995.

Free from narcotics and alcohol, Couch swiftly shot to prominence with his first world title in Denmark, but recognition was in short supply.

The British Boxing Board of Control refused to issue her with a boxing licence on dubious medical grounds and Couch vented her anger on the men in suits.

She became a cause celebre and earned a place in the history books by partaking in the inaugural female boxing bout in Britain. As well as pulverising her opponent, Couch decided to sue the BBBC for loss of past income to prove that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Now a successful promoter in her own right, Couch is calmness personified when talking to reporters in Birmingham's canal basin, which only adds to an atmosphere of serenity.

"I didn't enter this battle for anyone else other than me, because I wanted to box in England," said Couch, referring to suggestions that she fought her battle as a publicity stunt.

"I was boxing in America and I just wanted to fight in my own country. It has been well worthwhile and I am a trailblazer for doing it.

"If any other women want to do it, then it is a lot of hard work to get to the standard required to be a professional. However, at least they have now got the opportunity if they want."

Couch has remained steadfast, despite initial resistance from promoters such as Frank Maloney who claimed that "the only reason for women to be in the ring is as ring card girls."

Her only previous outing in Birmingham was at the Aston Events Centre in 1999 where she beat Germany's Heike Noller on points in a riveting fight.

As chief support to the Wayne Elcock/Lawrence Murphy fight on Ken Purchase's bill a week on Saturday at the International Convention Centre, Couch will be once again thrust into the limelight.

Seven years on from her Birmingham debut, Father Time is tapping Crouch on her shoulder. However, like every other potential foe that has dared to challenge the whirling dervish that is Couch, he has been given extremely short shrift.

"I have got no intentions of retiring just yet," she said. "Look how many times I have been world champion and there is not a mark on me.

"I stopped the European champion (Galina Giumliiska) inside three rounds in my last fight. My trainer in the gym is a real taskmaster and I spar twice a day with men, which obviously helps.

"As long as I can work hard in the gym and feel like I am, then I will continue. This will be a good fight, as the trouble with Ukrainians is that they are all tough.

"She has had a few good wins, but I want hard fights. I don't want any knock-overs at this stage of my career.

"I have only had eight stoppages in my career (38 fights), but I will put on an excellent show.

"I have got a lot of connections in Birmingham with Ken Purchase (promoter) and Richie Woodhall. Boxing in Birmingham needs something like this as when Richie and (Rob) McCracken were about it was brilliant." ..SUPL: