Gavin Rees will defend his European lightweight title against Anthony Mezaache in Paris on Friday March 23. The Welshman won the vacant belt in June against Andy Murray in Cardiff and the 31 year-old heads to the northwest of the French capital at the Gymnase Georges Racine in Clichy la Garenne, Hauts-de-Seine to retain the belt in his first pro fight outside the UK. Rees’ first defense ended in a draw after Derry Mathews sustained a broken nose after a clash of heads in the fourth round of their fight in Newport in October. The Newbridge fighter is looking to get back into World title contention after holding the WBA light welterweight title in 2007-08 but will face a stern task in Mezaache’s hometown. The Frenchman is seeking to hold the European belt for the second time having recovered brilliantly from a first round knock down to take it from Jon Thaxton in February 2009 in Norwich and defending it once before relinquishing. The 33 year-old claimed the vacant WBA Inter-Continental and IBF International belts in April in the same venue and followed that with another win there in December, his 21st pro victory from 30 contests.