21st July 2011
Ashley ‘Treasure’ Theophane defends his British light welterweight title July 23 in the 12-round co-feature against Welsh champion Jason ‘The Power’ Cook on “The Big Brawl” Event, live from Wembley Arena.
The card features undefeatedLondoner, Dereck ‘Del Boy’ Chisora’s (14-0, 9 KOs) defence of his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles against Manchester’s undeafeted Tyson Fury (14-0, 10 KOs) in the 12 round main event.
The show is promoted by Hennessy Sports and can be seen live and exclusively in the UK on Channel 5.
In Preparation for fights the past six years, Theophane (29-4-1, 7 KOs) has successfully split training camps between his home in London, and adopted abode, New York City, after first travelling to the States to train in 2005.
‘The Treasure’ is rated No. 14 by the IBF and captured the Lonsdale belt in his last fight, via a unanimous 12-round decision over Lenny Daws in February 2011.
Domestically I am the best 140lbs fighter. No other domestic fighter has achieved what I have so far. My goal has always been the World stage. I have three fights to win the Lonsdale belt then I’ve no interest in fighting British fighters.” – Ashley Theophane
BritishBoxers spoke to Ashley this week prior to his fight with Cook and found out how the British Champion is preparing to face Cook. His ambition to win the Lonsdale belt outright and then fight for a world title. Ashley also tells us about his past and setback, getting put in prison and the effect that had on his life and boxing career…..
Interview with Ashley Theophane – British light-welterweight Champion…
Being a boxer is hard but I am happy doing what I do.” – Ashley Theophane
BB: Tell us about your amateur career and achievements?
AT: I didn’t achieve nothing in the amateurs. I was always just waiting until Mr. Akay would let me turn professional. That was always my goal. I hated amateur boxing…
BB: By your own admission you had a troubled youth and spent some time in prison after getting involved with the wrong people etc. How did this time in your life effect and make you the person you are today?
AT: When I went jail for an alleged arm robbery, I saw a lot of young guys get sentenced to double figures and I told myself if and when I was found not guilty that i would put everything into my boxing career. I was an amateur at the time. I was found not guilty and on my release I had tunnel vision and I applied for my professional licence twenty months later. I always set out to be the best I could be, that’s all. I never wanted to go in the ring and not give my best. I’ve never said I am number one. I’ve always said I want to fight the best fighters in the World.
BB: After coming through this period of your life, you now speak with youngsters about furthering their education and raising awareness of the dangers of gun and knife crime among under-privileged urban youth, hoping to teach them your own experiences and what can be achieved, can you tell us about your work and how it has helped you as a person?
AT: The youngsters listen to me as I’ve been where they are. I’ve walked in their shoes from being expelled from two schools and still finishing my education at college, getting arrested, going prison, I walked their walk and know how they feel so I’m in the perfect position to talk to them. It takes a mentally strong person to be positive in a negative environment. I just try give them some advice. its up to them to choose what they want to do.
BB: You made your pro debut in 2003, then after getting beat by Oscar Milkitas in your 11th fight you decide to base yourself and train in America – Can you tell us your mind set at that time, where your career was at and making the decision to seek out your boxing future in America?
AT: I trained in America before the Milkitas fight. In fact I spent weeks at Gleason’s gym and then a couple weeks in the Pocono’s mountains with Dmitriy Salita, James Moore and John Duddy leading up to that fight…. I first went NYC in August 2005 as it was always something I wanted to do and I had lost to Judex Meema and won my fight with Kehoe so I was 9-1. I felt it was now or never. I wanted to see how good I really was as I was fighting within myself and wanted to be pushed. I went over to NYC for a month and I worked with Lennox Blackmoore. I learnt loads with him and after that stage I kept going back a few months a year. It wasn’t until I beat Alan Bosworth in a British title eliminator and didnt get a shot from Barry Morrison or Colin Lynes that I said I’m focusing in America now. It felt like I was blacklisted after beating Bosworth as the experts (Boxing News), thought I would lose and probably many of my peers did as well. I love being the underdog and proving people wrong…. I went camp with Dmitriy Salita twice that year to Florida and Catskills mountains where I met manager Stan Hoffman who has had over 30 world champions. He saw World championship material in me and wanted to get me a fight in the US and that is how it all started from there.
BB: Tell us about the America journey and how you settled in there, did you have a plan of what you wanted to do and where you needed to go?…… What was the story when you got there?
AT: I would go America a few times a year for a few months, learn my trade with the coaches and I was up for sparring anyone. There was some hard sessions but sparring with guys like Joan Guzman, Yuri Foreman and Elio Rojas made me believe I could be at the top level of the sport. You have to remember I only got the Daws fight because I was World number four and they wanted my high ranking. He was only 18 in the WBC at that time. So without going America I wouldn’t be the British champion right now.
BB: What was the differences you found and what did you take from the time spent there and what do you feel it added to your game?
AT: I always had a Americanish style as that was 90% of the boxing I watched going up but I work hard no matter what country I am in. That’s the biggest thing in my arsenal. My hard work. There are only a hand full of fighters I believe work harder than me. The sparring was good, having trainers who believe you also help and believing in yourself. Many people say I’m not World level but who in Britain is then. Majority of British fighters get ranked because they fight for an Intercontinental belt. I beat and held my own with ranked fighters. World number 3 Delvin Rodriguez, who’s just had a terrific result against Wolak, Dany Garcia, world number 9 who is seen as the next big thing and former world champ demarcus corley. I also fought these guys as the underdog and in the territory. I don;t fight washed up guys. I get live opponents. Lenny was a good British champion and now I have the BBBofC’s number one and two fighters as my next two opponents in Cook and Wright.
Only Amir Khan in the British 140 147lb fighters has fought the level of opposition I have.
BB: You were unbeaten then for 3 years until you were outpointed by Ali Oubaali in America, then came back with 5 good wins, including good wins against Drew Docherty and former world champion DeMarcus Corley and then went in with prospect Danny Garcia losing to him on points. This was an up and down period in your career, where were you at mentally during this time and career wise did you feel you had direction?
AT: Losing to Oubaali was a good thing for me. Helped me worked on weak parts of my game. I came back and beat a former World champion so without that lost that wouldn’t of happened. Then I was offered the Judah fight at MSG on the Calzaghe/Jones bill. I said yes and so did Zab but then his team found out who I was and turned it down. I was training at a gym his father used to use so the guys told them I was a good fighter. I was offered Judah twice more for May 20th in Vegas and in New Jersey for last year. So he’s turned down fighting me three times. Its a business. Why fight me for standard money when he can get an easier fight for the same amount. I’ve never chased a fight with him. Promoters ask me if I am interested. I say yes and then they come back with he isn’t interested…. Losing to Garcia, I came back and beat World number three Rodriguez so I always bounce back big. If two good fighters go at it, there has to be a loser. There’s no shame in it. I train hard and I go and fight. that’s what I do. Fighting in America makes me happy and I get a buzz from it as that’s all I wanted to do. Mentally I am happy if I am getting big fights. Winning and losing is part of boxing. The losing part is something I work hard to try not to make it happen but the best lose, its all part of the game.
BB: You then won the IBO International welterweight title last year in Germany and then you were offered the British light-welterweight title fight with Lenny Daws, after two more wins. Was it the opportunity you had been hoping would come your way and was it now time to show the British fans what you were all about?
AT: Daws opportunity only came as they wanted my World ranking. I’ve never fought for the fans. I’m following my childhood dream. I want to fight the best in the World. I was on the verge of a World title eliminator but John Ingle asked me to fight John O’ Donnell. That fight didn’t interest me. I told him the only fight I want is Lenny Daws in as it was a fight that should of happen in 2007. My plan was to campaign in America until 2015 then come back and win the British title before retiring so I’ve done a detour off my World ambitions to win a Lonsdale belt outright.
BB: Did you know you had the beating of Daws, how was you feeling going into that fight and did it go the way you envisaged?
AT: I knew I would beat Lenny Daws. There is no one in Britain except Amir Khan who would trouble me. Everything he had I have but more so it was a fight I knew I would win and it went exactly as I thought.
BB: Your profile was raised when you beat Daws! New British Champion! a proud moment and a great achievement after your past setbacks and troubled beginnings, did you feel you had conquered a long road that night?
AT: Being British champion is great. I love saying it. It’s a ticked box but I want a Lonsdale belt for keeps. Professional boxing is a business and a lot young fighters don’t know how hard it really is. I always read about them wanting to be World champions and they don’t know the long hard journey it is. I’m someone who doesn’t give up and I will kill myself in the process of trying to achieve something. When I turned professional my goal was to see how good I really I am. I still haven’t peaked yet. I’m always improving. I’m not perfect but I am trying to be the best I can be, nothing more, nothing less.
BB: Your next fight is the first defence of your title against Jason Cook, how do you feel going into the fight and what risks does Cook pose to you?
AT: Motivation is the biggest risk for me. So I’m the biggest risk in this fight. I don’t think he deserved a shot at Lenny and I don’t think he deserves a shot at me as he hasn’t beaten no one since coming back in 2009. He has nothing that can or will trouble me. Channel five and Hennessy Sport wanted this fight so when it’s a one sided affair, you know who to blame.
BB: How is your training, condition and weight and has becoming a champion given an extra drive to push on and see the game and your career from another perspective?
AT: No! I train exactly the same as I did before. I was World number four last August so it’s not like I’ve come out of no where. I’ve been a World class fighter since 2008. I train the same as I always have trained. The main perspective is that fighting for the World title is my main objective and I’m still focused on that. Being British champion is a great feeling though.
BB: Will you beat Jason Cook, Why? and how will you will you do it?
AT: I will beat Jason because I’m the better fighter, I’ve beaten better fighters in the past and I’ll beat better fighters in the future. He brings nothing to the table. He’s an average fighter. Stoppage or points. A win is a win to me.
BB: Have you plans to win the Lonsdale belt outright and make the three defences?
AT: I will beat Jason Cook, Nigel Wright as ordered by the BBBofC and the winner of Steve Williams and Karl Place to win my the British title outright.
BB: Which fighters are on your tail now your champion and who do you feel domestically you may have to meet to cement your status as the top light-welterweight in the country?
AT: I’m not trying to cement my status as the best British fighter in the 140lbs division. Khan is that, as he fights on the World level, fight after fight. That’s what I want to be doing. There are always fighters calling me out and name dropping my name. It’s part of the job. I don’t really take notice of it as I’m not looking behind me, I’m looking in front. Domestically I am the best 140lbs fighter. No other domestic fighter has achieved what I have so far. My goal has always been the World stage. I have three fights to win the Lonsdale belt then I’ve no interest in fighting British fighters.
BB: In an ideal two year plan from now where will you be?
AT: I would have won a European title and a version of the World title. Nothing is impossible as my career has shown that already. Everything I’ve achieved has been without a promoter backing me. What would I be able to achieve with some backing.
BB: As for a world title shot, maybe the winner of Khan v Judah may look to who is the British champion, would you jump at that chance if it came your way?
AT: I would fight any top fighter in my division. The number one at 140lbs is Timothy Bradley and he is my main target, other than him. Berto and Ortiz are fights I want in the future.
BB: Looking back at the Ashley Theophane who made his pro debut in June 2003, what advice sound advice would you give him in hindsight and knowing what you know now. Or would you allow yourself to go through the journey again the same way?
AT: I wouldn’t advise anyone to be boxer. Nothing is guaranteed in this job. I would say go University and get a career where a pay check is monthly. Being a boxer is hard but I am happy doing what I do…. If someone really wants to be a boxer?.. Then I would say always go with your gut instinct. Mine has always been right. I would do everything the same as with the down falls, I’ve always bounced back or something positive has always come. I’ve been a professional for eight years and I plan to have another eight years as a boxer. I have a target of 50 wins to get to. I’m 21 short.
BB: Did you always want to be a boxer?
AT: Since 1985 I wanted to be a boxer, so yes.
BB: What has boxing given you?…… and without it?
AT: Boxing has given me focus and enjoyment in my life. I get to travel and I’ve met people I would not have met otherwise. Not many people get to do the job they wanted to do as a child…. Without boxing, I would probably be working in sports as that’s something I always enjoyed.
BB: Who has been the biggest influence in your life and on your boxing career?
AT: Biggest inspiration in my life is my mum and in my boxing career. Mike Tyson as he was the fighter who made me want to be boxer. Then Mr. Akay from All Stars boxing gym. Started at his boxing gym in 1988 and I still use the gym. He’s in his 70’s and still making moves and receiving awards. I want that to be me in the future.
BB: What do you do when you are not in training outside of boxing?
AT: Outside of boxing I like going out for meal, attending concerts, comedy shows and just chilling with my people.
BB: When its all over Ashley, what will you do after boxing?
AT: After boxing I would like to have my own personal fitness company. I’ve trained all over the world and with some world class athletes so I have loads of knowledge to pass on. I may even manage a few fighters as I’ve done a great job managing my own career.
BB: How would you like to be remembered, when boxing fans talk in years to come talk and say ‘remember that Ashley Theophane, the light-welterweight from London’ He was…….?
AT: I wanted to be remembered for fighting the best in the World. I was born to fail but I’m destined to succeed.
BB: Life philosophy?
AT: Work hard and believe in yourself. Nothing is impossible with perseverance and hard work.
BB: Anything you would like to add?
AT: I’m currently writing my novel Raised by the Hood which is about my life and my surroundings.
By Chris Maylett
for more on Ashley Theophane visit his website www.ashleytheophane.com
pics credit Ben & Simon Photography
pics credit Ben & Simon Photography