By Andrew Wake: Kilburn’s Ashley Theophane retained his British light-welterweight crown with an 11th round stoppage of Ben Murphy, but it was the challenger’s stock that will have risen.
Murphy, naturally a lightweight, took the call on just a few days notice after original challenger Nigel Wright was forced out of the contest due to issues with his brain scan.
And he produced a gutsy and memorable performance which nearly saw him take home the spoils.
Murphy, giving away nearly four inches in height, came straight out of the blocks in the opener, pushed the champion up against the ropes and banged away to the body with both fists. Theophane, normally a smooth boxer, could do little except tuck up.
The challenger was prepared to be crude and nasty to prevent Theophane starting to box and was warned by referee Howard Foster for using his head in close. But even when he did let up and give Theophane some room, the Kilburn man struggled to get his shots off.
Aggressive Murphy didn’t let a cut close to his right eye sustained in the seventh knock him off his stride either. He was clearly tired but continued to pressure and target his foe’s tattooed torso.
However, Theophane began to finally find the target in round eight, catching the Hove man as plodded forwards.
Round nine saw Murphy’s tank running on fumes. He started the session well by again backing the champion up and whinging in hooks. Theophane, though, sucked it all in and finished strongly by picking his punches from range.
Theophane gritted his teeth and took charge of things during the tenth stanza. He landed shots from arm’s length initially before moving more into range and connecting with attacks to the body.
And the end came a round later as Murphy’s engine finally gave way and Theophane detonated a series of blows which brought about Mr Foster’s intervention. The time was 2.33.
Theophane, now 31 – 4 – 1 (9 KOs), said afterwards that he intends to win the British title outright in 2012 before turning his attention to world honours.