Ashley Theophane: “It’s My Homecoming Fight And It’s My Last Fight Here”
By Ian Aldous
He turned professional in 2003 and will participate in his sixtieth paid contest on Friday December 11th, live on Channel 5. Ashley Theophane (50-8-1) is in the twilight of his competitive career and returns home to fight in the UK for the first time in over eight years, against Sam Eggington. It’s a 50/50 clash that is sure to entertain fight fans tuning into Channel 5.
“He’s cut from the same cloth as me. Win, lose or draw – it should be a good fight,” the forty year-old said in reference to the path both men have walked, often in the away corner.
Intriguing domestic clashes with Josh Kelly and Conor Benn had been touted earlier this year for Theophane, but failed to come to fruition. Thankfully, a date with Eggington was secured by Hennessy Sports to be broadcast on Free TV in the UK.
“I nearly fought Josh three times, then I got offered the Benn fight and I kind of prefer Sam because Sam has been British champion, Commonwealth champion and European champion. He’s done it the hard way and I respect his career.”
The Londoner is in fantastic shape and will leave no stone unturned in his quest to win, what will likely be his final fight on home soil.
“It’s my homecoming fight and it’s my last fight here,” the former British super-lightweight champion revealed. “I don’t mind to fight abroad because the majority of my fights abroad are for fun. If I’m fighting here – they’re going to be hard fights and I kind of don’t want to put myself through that. The camp itself is hard and it’s not the same as when I’m going abroad and have an easy fight. I have to dig deep and train hard and I don’t really want to do that nowadays.”
Understandable when the rigours of a lifetime within the game begin to catch up with you. But, the desire for a big domestic fight burned and the aforementioned fights with Josh Kelly and Conor Benn were both close to completion.
“With the Josh one, that was when I was doing my world tour and the first time I said, ‘yes’, but I just think me and (Eddie) Hearn couldn’t come to an agreement. With the Benn fight, I was just too overweight, like two-stone overweight and I just asked for more time and I think he didn’t want to give me that time. That’s why the fight didn’t go ahead.”
Whilst those fights couldn’t unfortunately take place, it’s no skin off Theophane’s nose. He’s travelled the world and taken control of his own career, not afraid to traverse the globe and seek what he felt he needed to advance. He ventured to New York in 2005 for seven years and during that time dropped a razor-thin split-decision opposing future two-weight world champion, Danny Garcia. This, before returning home and capturing the British 140-pound championship.
Two successful title defences preceded a surprising defeat to Darren Hamilton. It was time to return to the U.S. and link up with a certain Floyd Mayweather, who Theophane had briefly worked with previously.
“I went and they were cool with me from the start,” he said. “He wanted to help my career and knew of what I’d done in the States and said he wanted to help. I ended up being with Mayweather Promotions for five years and overall it was great. I got to fight at the MGM three times; I got to headline over there. I had a great time and got paid the most I ever got paid there as well. And I got to fight for the world title which I always wanted to do. I didn’t win, but I still got there.”
An overweight Adrien Broner, stripped of the belt at the weigh-in, became the first and only man to ever stop Theophane in their 2016 WBA world title bout. The following year, Theophane embarked on his very own world-tour, winning fights in countries including Hungary, Poland, Ghana, Romania and Denmark.
Having seen and done almost everything that a professional boxer could experience, it was time to tell his story. Earlier this year, ‘Raised by the Hood’ was released, documenting his life.
“While I was in America, I used to write a diary of what I was doing day-to-day. I stored it for years. For over ten years, I’d been doing this. I wanted to release the book but I just didn’t know when. When we were inside (lockdown) for like 3-4 months, I said now’s the time to get everything together.”
“The book is in two halves. In one half: I talk about my childhood, my youth doing crime and when I went to jail. Then it goes on to when I went to New York and trying to get fights over there, and seeing how good I am.”
With the finish line in sight, Theophane already has plans in place to establish Treasure Boxing Club. It’s his way of giving back to the next generation and he plans to be up and running by early 2021.
A quick glance at Ashley Theophane’s Boxrec profile mistakenly displays his record as being 48-8-1. Believing him to have had fifty pro wins, I quizzed him as to why this was the case?
“A lot of results do not go on there and it’s sad because a lot of guys are having fights in small places and they don’t record them,” he explained. “Now they’ve got a thing, if you scroll to the bottom, they say that not all results are on there (data may be incomplete/inaccurate).”
Certain boxing commissions don’t have all their results recorded by Boxrec, whilst some take considerable time to eventually be registered on the site.
“When I fought in Romania, they took three months to upload the results and the only reason they put it on there was because the commission met them (Boxrec) at the WBC convention and he had to beg them to put it on.”
For any doubters, Ashley possesses a document from Fight Fax Inc. illustrating his record to indeed be 50-8-1.
If all goes to plan, it will be 51-8-1 on December 11th.