If ever British boxing needed a positive role model and a fresh face to make strides on the global scene, then look no further than Ashley ‘Treasure’ Theophane, the reigning British light welterweight champion. Schooled in the notoriously hard New York gym circuit including the legendary Gleason’s, he is a fast rising star who tells us why he is looking to win he Lonsdale belt outright, and challenge for world honours this year, after signing for the renowned Hatton promotions stable.
Casual fans of the sport may not have seen him in action yet, but the London born fighter is already a highly respected boxer on the global scene, who has already beaten the then world rated American DeMarcus Corley, and the current top 10 ranked light middlewight Delvin Rodriguez. Add to that a narrow split decision defeat to Danny Garcia and you quickly begin to realise the company he has mixed in, and more importantly the level he is going to be competing at in the very near future.
What better time to catch up with Ashley Theophane, arguably Britain’s hottest world prospect, before he cements his place as a British great by winning the Lonsdale belt outright and then again challenging for world honours…..
Boxing Observer: First things first, if a fan of the sweet science is reading this article, and they have never seen you fight, can you give a brief description on what you are about?
Ashley: I’m currently the 140lb British champion. My reign has been for just over a year now. In my career I have beaten former world champion Demacus Corley, world number three Delvin Rodriguez, British champion Lenny Daws and former European champion Jason Cook. My last loss was over two years ago to the world number two Danny Garcia and that was a split decision that many people thought I won. I have fought in America, Germany, St.Lucia and Britain. I have 31 wins 4 loses and 1 draw. I’m a fighter trying to be the best he can be.
Boxing Observer: Last time we heard, you were looking to face Alex Arthur, but with Adil Anwar winning the recent Prizefighter, he has inevitably been touted as your next opponent. Do you think this is a possibility, and do you rate him?
Ashley: Alex was my number one choice but that is not happening now. Winning an amateur style tournament doesn’t make you a viable challenger in my eyes. Adil is a decent British fighter. Winning the prizefighter is more about the cash prize than it doing anything for your career. Yassine El Macchi, Patrick Mendy and Robert Lloyd Taylor have all won the competition but they have not got the big fights afterwards.
Boxing Observer: The light-welterweight division is looking very strong domestically, with yourself and Paul McCloskey leading the way, and obviously Amir Khan flying the flag on the global scene. Can you see yourself winning a European/World title at this weight in the near future?
Ashley: The World title is my target as I’ve already mixed it with elite fighters in America so that is my aim. Fighting the likes of Soto, Maidana, Ortiz, Berto and Peterson is what I’m working towards doing whilst under the Hatton promotional banner.
Boxing Observer: Your last fight against Ben Murphy was quite a strange one to shine in due to the pace initially set by the challenger. Was a it a frustrating night for yourself considering he replaced Nigel right quite late?
Ashley: I could of pulled out of the fight when Nigel Wright was declared unfit to box but I told the promoter to get me anyone. Darren Hamilton, Steve Williams and Curtis Woodhouse were all asked. Ben Murphy was the only one to step up. I was just focused on getting the win. I told the media beforehand I wasn’t bothered about looking good. Winning is all that matters to me. Sometimes you look good, sometimes you don’t. That’s boxing!
Boxing Observer: Hardest opponent to shine against, Ben Murphy or Ali Oubaali?
Ashley: I was not 100% prepared for the Ali Oubaali fight which many of the ringside media saw as a draw. That fight was a learning experience and losing that fight got me the Demarcus Corley fight so I wouldn’t change the events that took place. Losing to Danny Garcia got me the Delvin Rodriguez fight. Everything happens for a reason. I always try turn a negative into a positive.
Boxing Observer: You beat world title challenger Delvin Rodriguez back in 2010, and he went on to two fight of the year candidates with Pawel Wolak, drawing the first and winning on a UD in the rematch. Was he a hard opponent?
Ashley: Delvin is good at what he does. I had trained at the same camp as him for the Ali Oubaali fight and I knew that their training was not upto scratch. Delvin had a bad habit of fading in the later parts of a fight. So I knew if I kept walking him down I could win and I did. I felt if Delvin got rid of his trainer Lou Fusco he would go on to do better and he has so hence the entertaining fights with Wolak. I need to fight good fighters to get the best out of myself.
Boxing Observer: One of the reasons the boxing world has respect for you, is because you are a very well travelled and schooled fighter. Do you feel your training abroad, and your willingness to experience different fight cultures has benefited you more than your rivals?
Ashley: As a kid, fighting and training Stateside is what I wanted to do. That’s why I took up the sport. My best performances have come abroad. I enjoy fighting and training with elite fighters. That is not possible in Britain. Most British fighters only reach a certain skill level because they are not willing to make the sacrifices to be the best they can be. I will go wherever I need to go to improve.
Boxing Observer: When are you fighting next, and if you win the Lonsdale belt outright will you go and challenge for world honours?
Ashley: I’ve been told April I am fighting but I am waiting on Hatton promotions match maker Richard Poxon to confirm. When I win the Lonsdale belt outright I want to go back to fighting world ranked fighters, if that leads to a world title shot, I’ll take it. Many fighters are hoping to fight for a world title so I’m not making that my be all, and end all. I want to fight elite fighters.
Boxing Observer: I understand you are a big Floyd Mayweather fan, do you feel the Miguel Cotto fight in May will be competitive?
Ashley: I am a fan of both fighters as boxers. I think it will be a harder fight than the Manny Pacquiao fight would of been for Floyd. Miguel can fight on the front or back foot. To beat Floyd you need to pressure him as if you stand off him, he will out box you. I’m looking forward to the fight.
Boxing Observer: What are your views on the disgraceful scenes we saw in Germany last week with Dereck Chisora and David Haye?
Ashley: I found it entertaining to tell you the truth. The only thing I was against was Dereck ranting about gunning down David. Where I am from you don’t joke about that stuff, you just do it. Ali and Fraizer, Tyson and Lewis as well as numerous other fighters have had altercations at press conferences. It is part of the sport. If David Haye and Dereck Chisora were to fight tomorrow, they would fill a football stadium in Britain. They just promoted their future fight against each other. They are two individuals who had a scuffle, what they did should have no impact on British boxing. Terry and Suarez are thought to have made racist comments towards black players but not all football players are not like that. These things happen in life and I think people are getting carrried away with an incident that has been blown out of per portion.
Boxing Observer: You are obviously very fit and still relatively young at 31, do you feel you can box on for another 4-5 years?
Ashley: I currently have 31 wins. I feel like I have another 19 in me. I want to retire when I get to 50 wins so I’ve given myself six years to get that record. The best boxers and the boxers in the biggest fights are closing in on mid thirties to last thirties so my age is not an issue. Floyd Mayweather, Sergio Martinez, Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley are still fighting for millions and they are not in their twenties.
Boxing Observer: Did you vacate the IBO Welterweight strap after beating Harasch Hotaki to fight Delvin Rodriguez?
Ashley: I did not vacate it, no opportunities arose to defend it.
Boxing Observer: You have had some great nights in your career, knocking out Jason Cook, beating former world champ DeMarcus Corley and winning the British light-welterweight title against Lenny Daws. What is your proudest moment in Boxing?
Ashley: I have three proud moments for three different reasons. Beating Demarcus Corley in 2008 proved I could hold my own with world level fighters. He had just lost to WBC world number one Devon Alexander and after me he fought IBF world number one Randall Bailey. Then I beat IBF world number three Delvin Rodriguez which got me a number four ranking in the IBF August world rankings. I was still the underdog when I fought British champion Lenny Daws. Beating Lenny was all about proving the doubters in Britain wrong. I’m respected in America but I’m not held in the same regard back in Britain.
Boxing Observer: Speaking of Lenny Daws, would you give him a rematch?
Ashley: Lenny Daws will be my next defence in April if the Boxing Board of Control sanction it.
Boxing Observer: You are signed to Hatton promotions now, and they have a cracking stable of promising fighters like yourself. What is like being promoted by Ricky Hatton?
Ashley: I’m yet to find out as I have not fought on a Hatton promotion yet. I’m optimistic about the future with them. Hopefully I can get the big fights I want.
Boxing Observer: Looking at your resume in the sport, your only losses have been close points decisions, and you have beaten two former world titlist’s and challengers, can we see you stepping up a level in 2012?
Ashley: I’ve stepped down a few levels to campaign as British champion. I’ve fought ranked, a world title challenger and a former world champion so I want to get back to the level I was campaigning at in 2010. I want the top fighters in the 140-147lb divisions. Sotto, Ortiz, Berto, Peterson, Holt, any of those guys. If Danny Garcia is good enough to fight for a world title so am I as many people think I won that fight. If being British champion didn’t mean anything to me I would vacate and go back to fighting the names of the sport. As I’m unmotivated and uninspired fighting these domestic fighters but it means a lot to me to own the Lonsdale belt so I’ll do what I have to do to keep it.
Boxing Observer: Who wins these fights, should they ever get made; Haye v V Klitschko and Mayweather v Pacquiao
Ashley: Mayweather will easily beat Pacquiao. That’s an easy night work for him. David is capable of beating Vitali. It all depends on the tactics he employs in the fight.
Boxing Observer: Are you solely focused on 140, or would you fight at 147 again?
Ashley: I want to fight at 140 or 147lbs wherever the opportunities arise. I’ll probably end my career at 154lbs.
Boxing Observer: Do you feel, that even though the UK had a dreadful run of results in world title fights last year, that actually there is big strength in depth, and that there will be more British champions this year?
Ashley: It is good that British fighters are getting the opportunities and are willing to travel. I don’t know if there will be more World champions from Britain but hopefully the opportunities keep coming as I would like a shot at a world title. Too many British fighters give the world champ a close fight then cry robbery. You have to take the title off a world champion and none of them did that. They put up some good performances but none were robbed in my opinion.
Boxing Observer: It is hard to track you down, hence why they call you the globetrotter! Are you mostly residing in London this year, or are you going to base yourself out in the states?
Ashley: I live in London. When I have a fight to train for I come to America to train with the world’s best. I love travelling. The world is a big place and I want to see as much of it as I possibly can.
Boxing Observer: Ashley, it has been a pleasure speaking with you. Do you have a message for your fans, and any news on your plans for 2012?
Ashley: I would like to thank all of my supporting for believing in me and I’m looking forward to another successful and productive year. My first Treasure Boxing gym will be opened in Queens Park soon, so I’m excited about that. Thank you for the interview.