Q&A: Ashley Theophane
The second season of the PBC on SPIKE TV series kicks off on April 1 with an interesting junior welterweight matchup between Ashley Theophane, British veteran now fighting under the Mayweather Promotions banner, and multi-division titleholder Adrien Broner at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C.
After stopping Khabib Allakhverdiev last October in front his home crowd in Cincinnati, Broner (31-2, 23 knockouts) looked directly into the Showtime camera and demanded that his former “big brother” Floyd Mayweather put Theophane on a plane to meet him for his next bout. Earlier in the year, Mayweather told members of the boxing media that his prot├®g├®, Theophane, could beat Boner, which angered the brash Ohioan and sparked some back-and-forth on social media.
Theophane (39-6-1, 11 KOs), while not widely known, has clawed his way to fringe contender status despite suffering some hard luck decisions, including the night he almost stopped the Danny Garcia express on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights series. The London-born Las Vegas resident dropped a close split decision to the future junior welterweight champ, who remains unbeaten.
“A lot of people thought I beat Danny,” Theophane told RingTV.com by phone from the Las Vegas. “Danny Garcia came up to me after the fight and said that I won. The judges had it a split decision, by one round each. He probably wouldn’t say that now but he did say it then. Boxing fans come up to me today and say that I won that fight. Even Terence Crawford when I first met him told me I won the fight. I believed I won but I was the opponent that night and that’s what happens when you are the opponent. You lose close fights.”
Although Theophane will once again be “the opponent” against Broner, this time he has one of the most powerful names in boxing in his corner in Mayweather. Mayweather first saw Theophane at his gym in Las Vegas when he was training for the Robert Guerrero fight and took notice of Theophane’s work ethic and attitude in the gym.
“Floyd started asking me questions and was surprised that I achieved all I had at that point without a promoter,” Theophane said.
Theophane officially signed to Mayweather Promotions while Floyd was in camp for Canelo Alvarez and the two would run and spar together. However, Theophane lost his first bout under Mayweather Promotions to the tough former title challenger Pablo Cesar Cano in 2013.
“Floyd could have dropped me right then but he said just get back in the gym and keep training. ‘I believe in you,’ he said. So now I won six straight fights for him and will win the title.”
Theophane took some time out to speak to RingTV.com about preparing for Broner and working with Mayweather.
RingTV: As you prepare for the biggest bout of your career what do you think you need to do to win this fight?
Ashley Theophane: I have to be active with him. So people are saying this fight between us will be a mismatch but it’s not. He’s 25-26 years-old and is a four-weight class world champion which us phenomenal, but as Floyd said two of his word titles were for “make-’em” belts and the opponents were hand-picked. Look at the Paulie Malignaggi fight. There are a lot of people who think Paulie Malignaggi beat him. Paulie doesn’t punch hard but he’s very active and I am active. Broner likes to fight at a slow pace which will work to my advantage. Broner didn’t do it the way Floyd did it. He is very beatable. He isn’t a Floyd Mayweather or an Oscar de la Hoya. He’s a good fighter, talented, works hard in the gym but no chance this is a mismatch.
RTV: Are you bothered that not many people are giving you a shot to win this fight?
AT: The No. 1 boxer in the sport believes in me and thinks I can win this fight so I must be doing something right. Plus, Emmanuel Taylor gave Broner a hard fight and he is not on my level. So if Taylor can do that to him I know I can do even better. This matchup is closer than what the naysayers are saying. I’m very experienced. I have sparred better fighters then Adrien Briner has fought. I spar with Floyd Mayweather, he is on that level. Floyd has knocked his sparring partners out cold. The boxing media will be surprised after this fight.
RTV: A loss for Broner would be devastating for his career. Talk about what a win will do for yours.
AT: I think a win against Boner and a world championship puts me up there with big names. I’ve been saying that all I need is career defining fight and this it. I was once ranked # 4 in the world but I never had a promoter to get me a title shot. A win would change my life and achieve my childhood dream. I believe I can win. My team believes I can win. Now it’s up to me to just prove it in the ring.
RTV: What did you make of the post-fight comments Broner made about you after he beat Allakhverdiev?
AT: I was in the UK and they woke me up, it was around 4:00 a.m., to tell me what he said and he called me out. I laughed at the comments. You know Adrien is Adrien. He always has to say outrageous thigs. The guy just won the world championship and he called out my name, Ashley Theophane. Look at the power that Floyd Mayweather has. He is so upset that Floyd said I can beat him that after achieving this great feat he called me out and a lot of boxing fans were like ‘Who?’ They had to Google my name. I think it’s great.
RTV: I think it’s great that you took it in a positive way.
AT: Well his nasty remarks were really about (Caitlyn) Jenner not about me. I’m 35 years old. I’m not going to get upset by someone calling me names. I’m not a child. That’s what Adrien does well. He’s outrageous. Floyd said the person he made the remarks about doesn’t even know who Adrien Broner is. He called me out. He wants to fight me. Cool, let’s fight then.
RTV: Does the history between Mayweather and Broner add anything additional to this bout for you?
AT: At the end of the day it’s a world title fight (the WBA 140-pound belt) and I want to win the world title. However, I would like to win this fight for Floyd because Floyd Mayweather believed in me from day one. This is my chance to thank him. I would like to win it to thank him, and yes, I want to do this for The Money Team because Broner did say “F” The Money Team, so there are a lot of people who are rooting for me to beat this guy.
RTV: You told me Floyd believed in you from the start. Why do you think that is?
AT: Floyd saw something in me and has stuck by me even after I lost my first fight with Mayweather Promotions. That’s amazing. Look at his three world champions, Mickey Bey, Ishe Smith and Badou Jack. When Floyd signed them no one thought any of them would be world champions. Badou Jack got his world title fight after he got knocked out a year ago. He worked hard and did what he had to do. Floyd likes to help the underdog. No one talks about that Floyd Mayweather. When they talk about Floyd they talk about the money and cars and whatever. He really wants to help guys who are working on their trade. I will be his fourth world champion.
RTV: What was it like to spar with Floyd?
AT: For me it was fun and I took it as an opportunity to show him what I am made of. Some fighters get nervous around Floyd but I relished it because you are in the ring with greatness.
RTV: You must have given him a good sparring session since he bought you a car right afterwards?
AT: (Laughing) Floyd buys lots of his guys cars. He just likes to reward hard work. He goes on great vacations and brings his guys with him to make sure everyone has fun too. I needed a car and he just wanted to reward me. He’s a nice guy.
RTV: What’s the best piece of advice he has given you?
AT: Floyd does not get the acknowledgement for being a smart businessman – even outside of boxing. He will never go broke like some other fighters will because he so smart. Yes, he spends a lot of money but he knows what he’s doing. For example, he will spend $1,000,000 on a car right but the car will hold its value and will probably increase. He works tremendously hard outside of boxing. The man has tunnel vision.