Theophane overcomes Murphy
Ashley Theophane was made to dig deep to retain his British light-welterweight title against late sub Ben Murphy.
By Ed Damerell
Last Updated: 11/12/11 9:49am
Ashley Theophane retained his British light-welterweight title in Peterlee but was given all he could handle by late sub Ben Murphy.
Theophane seemed to pace himself throughout the fight and upped the tempo in the latter stages to stop Murphy in the 11th round.
It was never going to be an easy task for Theophane who was originally scheduled to face tall southpaw Nigel Wright but ended up with the pint-sized Murphy at two days' notice.
The challenger used his 5ft 3" frame effectively to duck under Theophane's defence and wing away with hooks. His crude mauling tactics were effective from the outset as he closed the distance and roughed up the champion on the inside.
Theophane spent much of the first five rounds on the ropes covering up and he couldn't find the sting in his punches to discourage his rival. Every so often he would connect with a crisp right hand but his scoring blows were few and far between and it was the man from Hove who was taking the rounds on the judges scorecards.
But by the seventh there was a notable change in the flow of the fight. The champion's corner assured him that Murphy was now showing signs of tiredness and it was time to step up his work rate. Theophane responded and got the breakthrough he was looking for in the eighth when he opened up a nasty looking gash above the challenger's right eye.
While this didn't discourage Murphy, who was still having his moments up close, Theophane looked more in control and was showing the skills that had seen him fight at a much higher class - in the tenth he began picking his shots and was landing to the body at will.
Finally he was starting to break his man down and the end came in the eleventh after a sustained attack. For the first time in the fight Theophane managed to push Murphy back and almost immediately the challenger's momentum was halted.
With Theophane unleashing painful shots with both hands referee Howard Foster jumped in to save the bloodied challenger on the ropes. At the time of the stoppage the champion was behind on all the judges' cards but just seemed to have the gears needed to outclass his opponent.
"It was a hard fight. But I'm in great shape and I was ready to go to war," Theophane told Sky Sports afterwards.
"The first four or five rounds I knew I was behind, but bit by bit I started to break him down. I'm just glad to get the win.
"I thought I could out-box him but he wasn't giving me time. I'm not going to lie, I did think I was going to play with him because, not being rude, he's a novice compared to me. But he rushed me, I didn't have time to do what I usually do."
Elsewhere on the show in Peterlee, Chris Edwards kept hold of his British flyweight title with a comfortable points victory over Shinny Bayaar. Edwards piled up the points working the body and avenged his 2009 defeat to the Oldham-based Mongolian.