Headline News

Noely Murphy edged out in WBC title fight

Noely Murphy fell to the first defeat of his career tonight in New York.

The Cork light welterweight headlined a DiBella Entertainment bill at the BB King Blues Club and Grill in Times Square, Manhattan, but was unsuccessful in his challenge for a WBC rankings belt.

Murphy took on Mikkel LesPierre for the WBC United States (USNBC) titleĀ and was edged out by his slicker more experienced foe – with a penultimate round points deduction proving crucial.

32-year-old LesPierre, originally from Trinidad and Tobago but now living in the Bronx, New York, came into the bout off the back of a career-best win having stopped Mario Beltre in December for the WBC FECARBOX title and added another rankings belt to his waist following an entertaining clash of styles with the young Rebel.

A busy first round saw 23-year-old Murphy rip shots into the body of the tricky LesPierre

A closer second was perhaps edged by Murphy, who came to life in the closing minute, throwing more shots to the body and subsequently landing upstairs.

The Caribbean fighter began the third well, landing a sharp combination within seconds and establishing a foothold in the bout, and finding a home for a wide range of eye-catching shots throughout.

Murphy came out more aggressive in the fourth stanza, landing one particularly big right hook as they traded.

‘Slikk Mikk’ was still enjoying his fair share of success though and Murphy went into the fifth sporting someĀ swelling under the left eye – a round in which LesPierre landed the cleaner punches and start to push the Macroom man back.

Despite some spirited salvos from Murphy, the LesPierre ascendancy continued into a closer sixth round – although a big combination at the bell from the Irishman seemed to invigorate the crowd and the fighter.

A very close seventh saw LesPierre score a big combination at the start and enjoy success inside, but the younger Murphy pressed the action and finished strongly once again.

Murphy had a resurgence in the eighth, a scrappy round, marching forward and outworking the slick but seemingly slowing LesPierre.

Both fighters entered the ninth round for the first time in their careers and Murphy resumed his pressing – before being docked a potentially crucial point for a shot to the back of the head. The deduction saw Murphy lose a little composure and begin to swing wildly and get caught with counters from the moreĀ controlled LesPierre.

Needing a big finish, Murphy tore out of the blocks in the tenth and final round, winging in huge shots as Lespierre looked to cover up. Following a short break for a clash of heads, Murphy upped the pace further, charging in and landing some massive blows, hurting LesPierre in the closing seconds but being unable to send the crafty Trinidadian down.

Going to the cards following a competitive clash, the point deduction would prove to be the difference between a draw and a loss for Murphy who was outscored 97-92 with one judge, but by just a point (95-94) with the other two officials at ringside.

The defeat sees Murphy drop to 12(2)-1(0), while LesPierre improves to 19(8)-0-1.

While the defeat will no doubt sting for Murphy, the youngster still has plenty of time to rebuild and the experience of tonight will help him continue moving through the ranks – indeed with a little bit more ring cuteness there is reason to believe that he could overcome LesPierre should they meet again down the line.


Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie