Much to my delight, the Theophane vs Broner fight is happening! Ashley Theophane will face Adrien Broner in the hope of taking the WBA Super-Lightweight title from him. Theophane has won his last six bouts since he lost on a split points decision to Pablo Cesar Cano in September 2013 at the MGM Grand in Vegas. His last outing seen him win by unanimous decision over Steve Upsher Chambers.
Is it fate that Floyd Mayweather has taken the 35-year-old, London born boxer under his wing? After losing his British super-lightweight title to Darren Hamilton could this be Theophane’s chance at becoming a world champion, if he’s achieved so much without a promoter, now he has one, is it his time to shine?
‘I went to Vegas for 2 weeks during my 8-week camp in NYC. Floyd was cool with me from the first day I arrived. A year went by, I believed I was good enough to get onto the money team so I went back there and two months later Floyd signed me.’
‘Working with Mayweather hasn’t prolonged my career because my aim is to reach 50 professional wins. Working with Floyd has made me a smarter fighter, a better fighter, I’ve known him four years now and everything happens for a reason. I’ve got to watch his training camps and get advice from the man. He’s the greatest of my era so to be part of his team and the only UK fighter is something special and I am proud of that.’
Ashley who comes from Westminster, London hasn’t always had it easy. At the young age of 22 Theophane left the UK in the hope of achieving his boxing dreams, this can’t have been easy but he tells Boxing Britain,
‘I just knew that I didn’t want to be a statistic. Being a child in Westminster you are surrounded by poverty and crime. It’s easy to go down the wrong road. That wasn’t the path I wanted to take so I told myself. I don’t know what I’m capable of achieving but just give your best. 13 years later I’m still going strong. Better than ever.’
‘There’s loads of opportunity in America. The Americans have always been friendly to me and willing to help. They are positive people so it’s easy to believe in yourself around them.’
Personally I think Theophane is one of few boxers who remains mysterious, he trains hard, remains focused throughout his career and is not always in the eye of the media. He didn’t have a promoter for a long time so found himself travelling over to St Lucia and even Luxembourg in search of a fight.
‘I’m a British boxer that had to go stateside to achieve my goals because the British boxing community shut the doors to me so I went to Germany and America to continue my career. That’s made me strong. Resilient and focused! I’m out of the British public eye as I’m not a Sky Sports or Boxnation fighter but if you know boxing, you know me. I’m known and respected in the boxing world among boxers so I’m happy with that. I keep myself to myself. ‘
With a fight record of 39 wins (11 KO’s), only 6 losses and one draw, it’s fair to say Theophane has a respectable boxing career behind him. A loss that has always stood out to me was the 10 round points loss to Danny Garcia which took place in Feb 2010 at Don Haskins Convention Centre, Texas, USA. I know I speak on behalf of many boxing fans when I question, would Theophane have won the fight, should it have taken place in London and also if a rematch is something that may happen in the future.
‘Yes, I probably would have won. Fighters and fans come up to me all the time and still say I was the first to beat him. Terence Crawford told me that last year. Danny has his career. I have mine. A rematch proves nothing. If there’s bad judging, there’s bad judging. Life goes on. To me my three loses and draw in UK were bad decisions. I’m more disgusted by those results than the Danny Garcia one. ‘
As boxing fans we hear about and sometimes see these famous sparring sessions in the Mayweather Boxing Club, some of which are intense to say the least. A personal favourite was back when Theophane was the newest member of TMT and sparred Errol Spence in 2014. Which leaves a question in my mind, has there ever been a Theophane & Broner sparring session?
‘I’ve never sparred Adrien Broner. Floyd wanted me to spar him years ago but it was the week of my fight. Floyd has wanted this match up for a while and it’s nearly here. Sparring is sparring. Big gloves and head gear. When the lights are bright, the crowd is cheering or booing. That is when your performance matters’
When researching Theophane I have read that in previous interviews he had said his toughest fight was against Ali Oubaali, so I asked if that still remained his toughest fight to date?
‘Ali and Pablo Cesar Cano. Both fights proved I have no quit in me. I started slow in both fights but finished strong.’
This fight against Broner presents a good opportunity for Theophane in what you could call the later stages of his career. For me it is a fight that has come about through his association with Floyd Mayweather and I asked Ashley how he thought the fight would pan out.
‘It’s hard to say how hard the Broner fight will be. It could be easy. It could be hard. I’ve fought Danny Garcia, Delvin Rodriguez, DeMarcus Corley, Lenny Daws and Jason Cook as well. All good fighters but styles make fights. I’m expecting a hard fight. I’m expecting AB to be at his best. I’m preparing for a battle. To win I need to put out my best performance.’
Theophane and Broner carry themselves very differently both inside and outside the ring. The Westminster native is a reserved man, who doesn’t hog the limelight, gets his head down and goes about his work. This is a complete contrast to the 4 weight world champion from Cincinnati who is rather brash to say the very least. Have any of Broners comments thus far had any effect on Theophane?
‘Adrien Broner is Adrien Broner. He’s going to be him. That’s how he promotes his fights. He’s the champion. I’m the challenger. I’m just training hard, eating right and resting when I need to rest. It’s taken me 13 years to get here so this is a one in a lifetime fight. It’s my career defining fight. It’s a super fight to me. I’ve fought some good fighters in America and Britain. This is the one that counts.’
Theophane is clearly in the right frame of mind for the biggest fight of his career. He is not looking past Broner at all and knows this is a big chance for him.
‘I have no plans further than Adrien and I. He has my full attention.’
I was curious to know what boxer, past or present, Ashley would choose to fight. So I put the question to him.
‘I’d love to share a ring with Pernell Whitaker. Like Floyd, he was a genius in the ring. He only truly lost to Felix Trinidad and that’s while he was battling a cocaine addiction. Special fighter!’
Lastly, for any up a coming fighters out there that have a dream of topping the bill in the USA…. A few words of wisdom from Ashley ‘Treasure’ Theophane.
‘Go for it! It’s going to be hard but you can’t quit. That should never be an option. Set yourself a goal and work hard until it is accomplished.’