GLOBETROTTING Ashley Theophane returns to home soil this weekend to face current British light-welterweight champion, and fellow Londoner, Lenny Daws at Wembley Arena on an action-packed bill promoted by Hennessy Sports.
The 30-year-old was this week in bullish mood as he offered his predictions for fight night and detailed what gems 2011 has in store for “Treasure”.
“I am feeling good, am in great shape and my training camp has gone extremely well,” beamed Ashley. “I did six weeks in New York at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn and Universal Boxing Gym in Queens, sparring former world title challenger Dmitriy Salita as well as prospects Dean and Scott Burrell. I then flew back and finished up with six weeks in the UK, sparring former English champion Steve Williams, Commonwealth champ Liam Walsh, a whole host of undefeated prospects and my All Stars Gym team-mates.”
Despite current champion Lenny Daws entering his latest challenge with three stoppage wins from his last five outings, Theophane isn’t overly convinced, nor has he been losing any sleep over “Lightning’s” striking power.
“Barry Morrison took a rematch with Lenny at short notice and was stopped more on exhaustion than Daws’ KO punching,” Theophane opined. “In fact Morrison was troubling Lenny before running out of steam. Steve Williams was stopped on a cut and Sergejs Savrinovics had two wins from 13 fights so he wasn’t a killer. The other two opponents from Daws’ last five fights have been Peter McDonagh, who gave a good account of himself, and Jason Cook could have very easily got the nod in their draw so his recent form is not that spectacular. I am the one going into this bout with form onside. Lenny is 32 now so his whole career rests on the outcome of this fight. I have shown in the past that I am a world-level fighter and the gulf in class will be all too apparent on Saturday.”
When reminded that it was 2007 when he last stopped an opponent himself, few of Ashley’s feathers were ruffled.
“Is that how long it’s been?” he asked. “My last three opponents have been 6ft welterweights and they felt my power so stoppages happen when they happen. Ivan Calderon and Pernell Whitaker were two pound-for-pound fighters who didn’t boast many stoppage wins so getting the victory is all that really matters to me. World number three Delvin Rodriguez was a so-called welterweight power-puncher and I backed him up so I am capable of using different tactics. I could outbox Lenny Daws and have him hitting air for 12 rounds or push him back and bully him. He will just have to wait and see what tactics I adopt. Lenny last lost when he appeared on the same show as me; I can assure you that after this fight he’ll never want to be on the same show as me again”.
The current owner of the Lonsdale Belt may be an eight-year veteran of the fight game, former Southern Area, English and two-time British champion with only one defeat (later avenged) from 24 outings, but the man looking to bring his reign to an end isn’t intimidated by Daws’ CV.
“Lenny hasn’t fought the best 140-pound fighters in Britain,” Ashley pointed out. “Ajose Olusegun, Amir Khan and Paul McCloskey are the elite on the British scene other than me. Kevin Mitchell was 30 and 0 before he fought Michael Katsidis, anyone can build up a good-looking record without fighting the best. My record stands at 28 wins, four defeats and one draw but I have been in with former world, English, Commonwealth and African champions as well as the WBC number 10 and IBF number three-ranked opponents. No 147-pound or 140-pound fighters in Britain other than Amir Khan have fought the calibre of fighters I have.
“Lenny has many weaknesses, I am sure he knows himself what he lacks as a fighter, but he makes up for it with fighting spirit and conditioning. I haven’t been focusing on his weaknesses but his strengths, I am ready to beat the very best Lenny Daws.”
Picking up domestic honours so early in the year is something the Kilburn fighter is looking forward to and believes it will propel him towards a memorable 2011.
“There is no doubt in my mind I will beat Lenny Daws at Wembley Arena then get back on course to where I was after beating Delvin Rodriguez,” Theophane predicted. “I feel like I am dropping down a couple of levels to face Daws but his team bombarded me and my management with emails when I was in America trying to organise this fight, so let’s get it on! My goal this year though is to meet the top Americans, be it Andre Berto, Lamont Peterson, Kendal Holt or Devon Alexander, I would cause them all major problems. Fighting this standard of opponent is my main focus and will lead to me gaining a shot at a world championship belt. I was offered a world title eliminator against Randall Bailey in October and that is where I want to be. In British boxing I am an outcast but in America I am respected by my peers.”