Theophane prevails in British title scrap

Kilburn’s Ashley Theophane was given a torrid time before showing his class to retain his British light-welterweight title with an 11th-round stoppage of Ben Murphy.

Southern-area champion Murphy was a replacement for Nigel Wright, who withdrew from the fight for medical reasons.

And the late stand-in was determined to take his big chance, bulldozing his way forward like a man possessed and immediately putting Theophane under pressure in a barnstorming opening round for the Hove-based fighter.

Keen to drag his more skilful opponent into a brawl, he continued to swarm all over Theophane in the next round and was warned by the referee for use of the head.

It was a similar story in the third and fourth, with the 5ft 3in Murphy – four inches shorter than the Londoner – again storming crudely forward and hurling punches while Theophane offered little in return.

Theophane offered slightly more in the fifth but was caught by a stiff left hook towards the end of the round that appeared to shake him slightly.

In the following round Theophane began to assert himself, but entered the second half of the fight behind on the scorecards and having taken a worrying amount of shots.

Theophane stepped it up again in the seventh, landing with body shots and then opening up a cut around Murphy’s right eye.

Those body shots appeared to have an effect and by the eighth Murphy seemed to finally be tiring, with Theophane at last landing with combinations and bringing his usually excellent jab into play.

Undeterred, Murphy continued to pile forward in the ninth but his cut worsened and the 10th round was a bad one for him, with Theophane landing a number of classy shots that had the underdog looking groggy – and grateful to hear the bell.

It was a mere stay of execution for Murphy, whose gutsy challenge ended when Theophane opened up with a flurry of punches that forced his opponent onto the ropes and the referee to step in.

Theophane’s victory takes his record to 31-4-1 and means one more successful defence of his championship would see him keep the coveted Lonsdale belt for good.

It would also leave him on course for a possible world title shot.

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