British welterweight Ashley Theophane recently made a career-altering decision by signing a long term deal with Mayweather Promotions and, as a result, will face off against Pablo Cesar Cano on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sept. 14.
“When it became clear that U.K .promoters weren’t offering me big fights I came back to America,” said Theophane. “I’ve always shined on the international scene and getting a three-year deal with Mayweather Promotions is huge for me because Floyd himself gave me this opportunity and that is a great thing.”
The phrase “anywhere, anytime” is thrown around a lot in boxing, but for Theophane it is a life-defining motto. Known as “The Treasure,” the former British junior welterweight champion has also competed professionally in St. Lucia, Germany, Luxembourg and the United States over a ten-year career.
He follows the sport religiously and is fully briefed on Cano, but far from intimidated by the Mexican slugger’s reputation.
“Cano has twenty knockouts in twenty-six wins, so his record indicates that he hits pretty hard,” said the 33-year-old Londoner. “He’s been in big fights with Erik Morales, Paulie Malignaggi and Sugar Shane Mosley but always falls short. I don’t see anything that will cause me problems.”
Cano was selected as Mosley’s comeback opponent in May after he pushed Malignaggi to the wire in a world title fight, and the man known as “El Demoledor” remains highly respected despite losing close fights to both former champions.
Theophane, however, is unimpressed and has his own take on Cano’s most recent appearances.
“I thought Shane controlled Cano from the fourth or fifth round onwards,” he said. “For me it wasn’t close but Cano did prove that he could fight off the back foot, which he was forced to do that night.
“Against Paulie, it was close but Malignaggi made Cano look good. I watched that fight and I don’t take anything from it. I think Paulie took this guy lightly and had one eye on bigger paydays that night.”
This reporter was about to ask why Theophane will have the edge over Cano in Las Vegas but the talented contender did not require prompting.
“At the end of the day you have to look at who we’ve both beaten,” said Theophane. “If you look at Cano’s record the only name on it is Johan Perez, and nobody outside of the boxing world knows who that is.
“I have wins over Delvin Rodriguez, who fights Miguel Cotto next; DeMarcus Corley, who had just lost to Devon Alexander for the number one spot; and I pushed Danny Garcia to a split decision. If you look at my record I’ve beaten guys who are known, whereas this kid has beaten nobody.
“I jab well, box well and I’m well-conditioned. My boxing ability will be too much for him plus I’ve been sparring with two world champions in Floyd Mayweather and Ishe Smith. I’m not worried about Cano in the slightest.”
Theophane has always believed in himself and it is clear that he still retains burning ambition and desire.
“Floyd and Leonard (Ellerbe) have signed me because they believe I can become a world champion,” said Theophane. “Their goal is to get me a world title bout because they think I’m good enough to go all the way.
“I’m straight in with Cano because they’re confident that I can come through fights like this. I can make 140 or 147 pounds and I’ve always fluctuated between those weights in my career. I just want to fight the best out there.”
Being that “The Treasure” is so close to Mayweather in the build-up to Sept. 14, it was natural to get an insider’s opinion on how the pound-for-pound king is performing in the gym.
“Floyd is looking good, as usual,” said Theophane. “Over the last three years he has boxed once a year but this time he only had a few weeks off and was straight back in the gym. Floyd sparred on his first day back and already looked like he was in the middle of a training camp.
“It’s the same old Floyd Mayweather. He’s very sharp and ready to go.”
So what does Theophane expect to see in the main event once he has taken care of his own business at the MGM Grand?
“I think Floyd will outbox Canelo. If you look at Canelo, he’s 42-0 but against Floyd’s 44-0 there is no comparison in terms of opposition faced. Canelo’s hardest fight was with Austin Trout and I believe that fight was a draw.
“Canelo also got tired against Trout whereas Floyd never gets tired. You can’t change that for one fight, so I think Floyd will outscore Canelo or he might even stop him. It’ll be one-sided, like the Robert Guerrero fight.”
Theophane, like most boxing enthusiasts, also has a vested interest in Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse and gave Garcia, on paper at least, one of his toughest tests.
“I side with Matthysse to win but I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion,” said Theophane in reference to the main support bout. “Zab Judah and Devon Alexander have wins over Matthysse, so he is not unbeatable, and if Danny can take his power then he could outbox him.
“It just depends on what Team Garcia has planned and whether or not Danny’s chin can absorb a huge punch. I side with Lucas but Garcia has a very good chance of winning this fight.”
And what about Theophane vs. Cano?
“I have 33 fights with 10 knockouts, so I don’t normally chase stoppages, but I think I can maybe get this guy out of there. I know Cano thinks he can break me down but I’ve never been stopped whereas he quit on his stool (against Erik Morales).”
Floyd Mayweather vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will be screened live on Showtime PPV on Saturday 14th September (9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT). British fans can order the full event live and exclusive via BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). To subscribe visit www.boxnation.com.
Photos by Martin McNeil-Gettyimages
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and contributes to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing