Paris - Mehdi Sahnoune, a former light heavyweight world champion, was
sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Marseille on Thursday,
for smashing an acquaintance in the eye after a night of drinking.
Sahnoune, 42, had been in preventative detention since January 24.
The ex-boxer spent the night of January 17 playing cards and dice and
drinking beer with Jean-Michel Sanchez and childhood friend William
Cohen and in a flat in Roquevaire near Marseille.
Close to dawn, as the trio exchanged blows, Sahnoune hit Sanchez bursting his left eye and shearing the optic nerve.
The former boxer was convicted of "voluntary violence resulting in permanent disability".
Sahnoune won his world title in 2003 and lost it in his first defence.
"I'm sorry," Sahnoune said. "Mr. Sanchez's injuries, that's not how I am."
"At no time did I want to hurt him, I only defended myself."
Sahnoune said he remembers little because he was in "a complete fog" after Cohen kicked him in the head.
He said that he had only been thinking of "saving his skin" against
two men who, he told the court miming a cocaine sniffer, had taken "the
famous powder, Mrs Courage."
In 2008, Sahnoune was jailed for his role in a gang attack on a
fisherman outside a nightclub and later that year was arrested again as
police broke up a cannabis-smuggling ring.