By John Hargate

“The Caveman” Ben Murphy made an emphatic statement in his bid for a British lightweight title shot with a stunning first-round knockout of the previously undefeated Phil Gill at the Camden Centre on Saturday night.

Both men had weighed in on the lightweight limit, 9st9lbs, but Murphy, with his muscled, stocky frame, pushed Gill back immediately and unloaded with trademark looping hooks from both hands.

Gill tried to fire back with straight shots of his own, but didn’t have enough ‘pop’ to keep the rampaging Murphy at bay. Several right hands to the temple looked to stiffen Gill’s legs and, appearing a little dazed, he retreated to the ropes. Murphy gave himself room to punch and picked his shots well, detonating hook after hook to the head of Gill until referee Jeff Hinds rightly stopped the fight after only 2:35 of the contest.

Why such an early night? “I can’t say I expected it to happen that way,” grinned Murphy when speaking to Boxingscene after the fight. “I was expecting a tougher fight to be honest but you never know how things are going to go. Everything went to plan, how I wanted to box tonight.”

Did Gill make a mistake by trying to trade punches, mano-a-mano, from the off? He answered: “I don’t think so, to be honest with you. No matter what he did tonight, the result would have been the same. If he had tried to stand off and box me, maybe I could have just teed off on him and landed even better shots than the ones I did.

“Whatever happened tonight I knew I was definitely coming out a winner. I feel I’ve improved, I feel like I’m boxing a bit more now. Keeping a bit of distance so I can land the shots. I feel I have more power. It is kind of what I was expecting really because this one was made for me. Phil Gill is made for me. He was very open to every shot really. No disrespect to him but that’s just the way it is. Too easy to hit.”

Manager and promoter Mickey Helliet confirmed he would be pushing for a British lightweight title eliminator for Murphy. “We’re going to try and put him in with Carl Johanneson [Editor's note: Carl looks set to take on Chris Goodwin in a Commonwealth title eliminator at Salford's Bowler's Arena on June 2 according to BoxRec News's Martin Dobbing],” said Helliet.

“This wasn’t an official eliminator, but it was a Southern Area title fight against a kid undefeated in 14 and [Murphy] knocked him out in a round, so it’s as good as an eliminator. After what he’s done with Theophane [when losing a spirited British title challenge last December] - and stopping Phil in a round - I can’t see there being any argument, from anyone, that there should be anyone in front of him.”

“I do believe I’m stronger than anyone in the lightweight division,” added Ben. “I feel there’s no-one who’s going to out strength me - but it’s not all about that. There’s lots of things that need to be worked on in my boxing game - so I’ll keep working.”

Murphy moves to a deceiving 9-5-1 (5) with the win. He’s a lot better than the numbers suggest.

Phil Gill was understandably devastated after his first loss. The fight had looked competitive on paper and Gill, with his big heart and gritty determination, had been tipped to play his part in a ferocious battle. Those attributes were not in question. Gill’s power, however, - or rather lack of it - as demonstrated by his 12-1-2 (2) record, was perhaps the crucial factor as Gill couldn’t hold Murphy off.

“Ben came out of did what he needed to do,” acknowledged the crestfallen Gill. “In the ref’s eyes I looked hurt. The ref obviously didn’t know I wasn’t hurt. I felt fine. At the end of the day, the ref’s got a job to do and I wish Ben all the luck. I’m not going to sit here and bitch about it. The ref’s done what he thought was right in his eyes. I didn’t do what I needed to do and that’s it. He came out strong. I knew he was going to come out strong, I was never hurt, I was never fazed by it. I was waiting for him to slow down. He would have slowed down two or three rounds later. I was fully prepared for that to come. I covered up, some of [the shots] were coming through the sides but I was never hurt.”

I wondered if Phil had been at all shocked by Ben’s strength and power? “What I got was what I expected. But I didn’t expect the ref to stop it so quick. I thought he’d give it more of a chance to get going, it was near the end of the round, he could have let it go on.”

I told Phil I hoped we’d see him back in action again soon, he said: “I’ll go away and think about it. I’m just really disappointed in the outcome. I’m gutted.”

Also on the card, light-heavyweight Dan Woodgate avenged his only defeat with a third round stoppage of Sam Couzens. Couzens started brightly but Woodgate unleashed a succession of left kooks in the third that brought a timely stoppage from referee Mark Green at the 1.53 mark. Woodgate moves to 7-1 (2) while Couzens drops to 8-9 (2).

Youngster Charlie Rice, just 19, looked neat and tidy stopping Latvian Ivans Levickis after 1.38 of the third to record his second win in as many fights and gain his first KO. Rice threw eye catching combinations with his fast hands, working well to body and head and finished most if his flurries with well placed uppercuts. His defence appeared tight, with quick reflexes and excellent upper body movement. All in all, an impressive performance by light-welter Rice, albeit against less than stellar opposition.

Popular lightweight Ben Day was slow out of the traps against Olafs Sirmanis and lost the opener on my card. Looking to pick up the pace in the second, Day walked onto a right hook that dropped him and served as a catalyst for several minutes of wild action. Day rose and appeared clear headed, then drove Sirmanis back to the ropes and fired a volley of punches that gave the Latvian a taste of the canvas too. The round finished with both men winging in huge haymakers with more intent than accuracy. In the third Day finished the job. He dropped Sirmanis early and continued to bully him to the ropes and unload. Referee Mark Green rightly called a halt to proceedings after one minute of the round. Day moves to 3-0 (1).

Lloyd Ellet, Liam Shinkwin and Elliot Matthews all recorded wins on this entertaining small hall show.