By Daniel Vano
In early 2011, London’s Ashley Theophane put aside his world title aspirations and returned to his homeland, aiming to capture the Lonsdale belt. Early career hiccups had been cast to one side, and wins over DeMarcus Corley and Delvin Rodriquez rejuvenated his career, which had seen “Treasure” box everywhere from the United States, Germany, and even the Beausejour Cricket Ground in Saint Lucia.
Victory over fellow Londoner Lenny Daws saw the 31-year-old secure the British 10 stone belt. Knockout wins over Jason Cook and late replacement Ben Murphy put Theophane on the cusp of winning the title outright.
But Theophane’s dream was dashed in May this year when he dropped a decision to Spencer Fearon’s Bristol boxer Darren Hamilton. “I believe I won the fight, but obviously I was not at my best that night,” Theophane told BoxingScene.
“In the lead up to the fight I was offered fights with Jessie Vargas on the Floyd Mayweather – Miguel Cotto card, a world title eliminator against Joseito Lopez, and a $100,000 fight in Russia, so fighting Hamilton was very hard to get up for when [original opponent] Steve Williams pulled out due to sickness.”
The defeat against Hamilton was the fifth of Theophane’s career, but the first since dropping a controversial decision to current WBC Light Welterweight champion Danny Garcia in early 2010. “Bouncing back is what all great champions do. So that is a formality with me,” said Theopane. “Manny Paciquao, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Bernard Hopkins have all lost. Losing is part of any sport. Roger Federer didn't win a Grand Slam for over two years but that doesn't take away from the great player he is.”
When asked if a rematch with Hamilton was high on his agenda, Theophane rejected the idea. “A rematch would prove nothing,” he said. “I won the fight. Boxing has had loads of bad decisions this year and through the history of the sport. Hamilton is a basic fighter, but I hope he can make some money from his next fight because he will never do anything again with his career.
“[Hamilton’s] victory over me was like England winning the world cup. It was a once in a lifetime victory. The judges gave him the victory for reasons only they know. I will move on and fight the fighters I want to fight. Being British champion was great, but I had to fight boxers beneath me as the talent pool is very slim after Lenny Daws and Amir Khan. That is hard for any great fighter to do, and mistakes and bad days will happen.’
Instead, Theophane’s attention may once again be focused on fighting overseas. “Golden Boy just last week offered me a fight with [Keith] Thurman when Marcos Maidana pulled out, so the Americans know I'm a big game player”, said Theopane. “Those are the fights I want.”
Defeat against Hamilton clearly hasn’t dented the confidence of the outspoken Londoner. Theopane may not have to wait long to prove he has the ability to mix with world-level contenders. He said: “Promoters in Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and California have all shown interest in putting me on their shows in August.”
“Hatton Promotions matchmaker Richard Poxon promised me a fight in London in September, so I'm hoping he comes through as I'm 10-months through a 24-month promotional deal with them. I want to have a great season with them pushing me to the heights that I want to compete at.”
There is no doubting Ashley Theophane’s ability. Wins over DeMarcus Corley and Delvin Rodriguez prove the 31-5-1 (9) boxer can more than hold his own against world level contenders. However, his tendency to switch off during fights may end up costing Theophane the chance to showcase his talents on the big stage.