11-15-2011, 08:56 AM
Team Ireland's Bitch Boy
East Side Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Stalking DFTaylor, letting him know he is wrong!
Theophane on the Wright course
British Champion talks with Daniel Vano
Ask a casual boxing fan to name the best current British Champion and we would receive a handful of answers. Most would pick Super Middleweight champion George Groves who won a thrilling grudge match against arch rival James DeGale in May. Others may pick Tyson Fury, the terrestrial TV star who unified the British title with the Commonwealth strap after a dominant points victory over London’s Derek Chisora. Lancaster’s Scott Quigg may perhaps be mentioned in the same breathe. Few, however, would mention the current British Light Welterweight Champion Ashley Theophane. Having arguably mixed with, and beaten, better opposition than the three men mentioned before him, Theophane’s quest for popularity amongst the British public seemed to be stagnating.
That was until February of this year. While Frankie Gavin was putting on a virtuoso performance stopping Michael Lomax in 7 rounds at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, across the capital in Wembley, Theophane emerged victorious in a terrific British title clash with Lenny Daws. Theophane was to pull away from the champion in the 9th round as he knocked Daws down twice en route to a unanimous points decision. Ashley Theophane’s popularity amongst British fight fans skyrocketed overnight. Since then, the newly crowned British Champion has knocked out Jason Cook in 10, and is scheduled to defend his belt against Nigel Wright in December.
‘I've been in training camp for this fight for the past six weeks at Gleason's gym in Brooklyn’ said Theophane. ‘I've sparred Luis Collazo, Argenis Mendez, Francisco 'Gato' Figueroa and Dmitriy Salita among a host of other top New York fighters. My trainers Jihad Abdul-aziz and Harry Keit have been doing what they normally do, getting the best out of me. So I can't complain. This has probably been my best preparation for a fight so far in my career.'
The 31 year old’s lack of major support prior to February was not down to lack of talent. Far from it. While an immensely skilled boxer in his own right, Theophane has made his name boxing around the world. Connecticut, Oklahoma and New York have all played host to the talented Londoner, as have Mexico, Germany and even St. Lucia. While the British Light Welterweight champion does concede that fighting abroad has made it harder for British fans to relate to him, he feels travelling has made him a better boxer. ‘Since I was a kid I wanted to box and train in America so when I got the chance I made it happen. At the end of the day, no other Junior Welterweight or Welterweight in Britain other than Amir Khan has fought and beaten the calibre of opponents I have. I'm British champion and I'm representing British boxing Worldwide so it's a positive thing. If I had purely campaigned in Britain I would not be where I am today without a doubt. Both training and fighting abroad has made me mentally strong, and I have learnt many things on my travels. My best performances have been abroad so I obviously travel well.’
Although Theophane has good wins on his record having beaten the likes of DeMarcos Coley and Delvin Rodriguez, he has also suffered defeat at the hands of mediocre fighters with losing records. But he puts this down to the system of scoring fights in Britain. ‘I personally think Britain should have three judges like the rest of the boxing world and not a referee judging a fight’ said Theophane. ‘I blame the losses on that. Everything happens for a reason and that made me more focused on boxing in America as I don't believe I lost those fights. Everyone loses. It happens and it is not the end of the world. I bounced back big with wins over Rodriguez, Corley, Daws and Cook so those losses mean nothing now as they were six years ago.’
While some fans believe the British champion was fortunate in the Rodriguez bout, Theophane sees nothing contentious about the decision. ‘Many fans worldwide have expressed how they thought I beat Danny Garcia on his promoters show in America. The Garcia and Rodriguez fights were both close and could have gone either way. I'm a British boxer fighting in America so the judges didn't do me a favour. They thought I won and who am I to disagree with them.’
For the time being, however, Theophane is concentrating on boxing in the British Isles. ‘I have taken a year out of my world title ambitions to win the Lonsdale belt outright. This endeavour should be achieved by March at the latest. I've just signed with Hatton promotions so I am sure in 2012 I will get a major push from them so UK fans will get to see more of me. Then hopefully I'll fight a couple of world ranked fighters and get my world title shot within the next 12 months.’
‘I would love to fight at White Hart Lane one day. Only time will tell but Maidana, Soto, Peterson and Alexander are boxers I would love to fight in the future. Win or lose I want to fight the best. On my day I believe I could beat any of the top fighters in the 140lb division.’
But Theophane has higher ambitions which he hopes to achieve in the near future. ‘Sometime in 2013 I should be campaigning at 147lbs. Fights with Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz are targets over the next couple of years. Not many British boxers travel well but I've shown that fighting abroad and on my opponents promoters show doesn't faze me.’
While some fans may raise their eyebrows at a fighter looking so far into the future, should Theophane beat Wright, he will certainly move on to bigger and better things. With both Amir Khan and Timothy Bradley seemingly intent on stepping up in weight in the near future, the Londoner will find himself on the outskirts of a division crying out for a superstar. While Devon Alexander, Marcos Maidana, and Humberto Soto are all world class operators, all have shown weaknesses and limitations in the ring that Theophane can capitalise on. This time next year, the British public may be supporting another multi-weight world champion.
Ashley Theophane defends his British title against Nigel Wright live on Sky Sports on December 10th.
How does Theophane do at world level?
For all those that enjoyed it, i'm on Twitter at @dvano1