By Jake Donovan
Fringe contender Ashley Theophane avoided a potential upset with a late surge en route to an 11th round stoppage of late sub Ben Murphy in their British lightweight title fight Saturday evening at Peterlee Leisure Center in Peterlee, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom.
Theophane struggled to adapt to the short, squat style of Murphy, who accepted the assignment on very late notice after Nigel Wright was forced to withdraw from the bout. Murphy was fresh off of an upset knockout win over previously unbeaten Tony Owen and looked to close out 2011 with another shocker.
The scrappy Brit was well on his way to doing just that, charging forward throughout the bout. Theophane was being outworked, but his relaxed demeanor served well as the bout progressed. Murphy was the busier fighter but not landing very often. Whatever early success Theophane enjoyed came in counter punching capacity, but spent much of the evening fighting in reverse.
The bout dramatically shifted gears in the sixth, when Theophane’s punch output increased and was landing at a much higher percentage. Fatigue began to set in for Murphy, though he refused to let it handicap his performance as he continued to employ a take-no-prisoners mentality.
Theophane figured out a way to swing momentum in his favor without losing sight of his strengths. Enough left hands upstairs caused a cut to develop outside of Murphy’s eye, although trainer Johnny Emes insisted the nick was the result of an elbow (using far more colorful language in its description).
Body shots from Theophane began to take its toll on Murphy, whose attack slowed down considerably as the bout crept towards the championship rounds. A huge 10th round saw Murphy stopped in his tracks on several occasions as blood began to ooze out of the injured right eye from the number of left hooks Theophane was able to land.
Murphy desperately attempted to swing the fight back in his favor in the 11th, but Theophane refused to let up. Every time Murphy charged forward and launched overhand rights, Theophane slid into position to avoid or deflect the incoming and immediately counter. The strategy reaped major dividends for the bubbling contender, firing away on a battered Murphy along the ropes until the referee stepped in to stop the contest.
The official time was 2:33 of the 11th round.
Theophane improves to 31-4-1 (9KO) with the win, his fifth straight. The streak includes a narrow points win over Delvin Rodriguez last summer in the United States.
Murphy gets an ‘A’ for effort in a fight he accepted on five days’ notice, but is still left with a loss at the end of the night as he falls to 8-5-1 (4KO). He has now lost four of his last seven contests, though all seven bouts coming against competition above his pay grade.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]