by David P. Greisman
It’s been a long journey for Ashley Theophane to get to his first title shot. He’s been a pro since 2003, and his record of 39-6-1 (11 KOs) shows that it hasn’t been a smooth ride along the way.
Critics of Theophane challenging Adrien Broner on April 1 in Washington, D.C., believe the 35-year-old doesn’t belong in the ring with the 140-pound beltholder. Theophane counters that his record is misleading.
“For me, you have to remember any time I stepped up I’ve never shown that I was outclassed,” Theophane said at a recent press conference. “If I haven’t won it, it’s been a split-decision loss. I’ve shown that I can mix it with the best. We’ll just have to see on fight night. Me and [trainer] Nate Jones, we’ve been working on a game plan. We know the way to beat him. You just have to do it when it’s the right time.”
“You’ve never really seen me been beat around the ring,” he said later. “I’ve been in the ring with a lot of good fighters, and there’s been some close fights. I’ve always held my own.”
Theophane’s first two defeats were early in his career: a points loss in 2005 to the 0-1-3 Judex Meemea and another points loss that same year to the 5-4 Oskar Milkitas. Then came a unanimous decision loss to Ali Oubaali in 2008, a split decision loss to then-prospect Danny Garcia in 2010, a unanimous decision loss to Darren Hamilton in 2012 and a split decision loss to Pablo Cesar Cano in 2013.
“I didn’t have a promoter for 10 years. … I think those fights, if you’re the opponent and you’re in a close fight, you’re going to lose. That’s just the way it is. It’s just boxing,” Theophane said. “With the Danny Garcia loss, a lot of fans think I won that fight. With the Cano fight, I started a bit too slow.”
And Broner isn’t undefeated either. Theophane looks to those two defeats on Broner’s record, as well as at least one other victory.
“A lot of the critics and the boxing fans say, ‘You’re not Shawn Porter, you ain’t Marcos Maidana, but there’s Paulie [Malignaggi] as well. People forget about the Paulie fight. A lot of people think he lost that fight. So you don’t just have to use brute strength against him. There’s other ways to neutralize him. … Even the [Emanuel] Taylor fight, Taylor done very well against him.”
Theophane thinks he’ll be able to keep up with Broner’s speed.
“I spar with a lot of young guys who imitate him, who try to be him, who look up to him. I believe that I can match him on so many different levels,” Theophane said. “He does a lot of things right, but he does a lot of thing wrong. The way that boxing reporters are going on — I’m not fighting Floyd. ‘AB’ is not Floyd. He’s not Floyd. He can be beaten, and he has been.
“I was at the John Molina fight and I was at the Shawn Porter fight,” Theophane said later. “I’ve watched him. He’s got skills. He’s got talent. But he can lose. He’s shown he’s vulnerable.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]