By John Evans
If you were asked to compare any current fighter with former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, it’s probably fair to say that British light welterweight champion Ashley Theophane wouldn’t even enter your thinking. The physical differences are obviously huge but ask the 31-year-old about his upcoming title defence against Liverpool’s Steve Williams and it is one of Tyson’s most famous quotes which springs instantly to mind – “How dare they challenge me with their primitive skills”.
The stylish Londoner may go about his business in a totally different manner to the former “Baddest man on the planet”, but shares the same steadfast belief that he operates on a totally different level to his rivals. We’ll let Theophane take over.
“Steve Williams and his deluded team think by walking forward and pressuring me that they have a chance,” Theophane, 34-9-1 (9), told BoxingScene.com when speaking about the May 19 meeting. “His team and supporters will end up getting him hurt. If you couldn't beat Lenny Daws - who played with him - how are you going to beat me? He says he has learned from that loss. He still looks the same fighter to me. He is slow and predictable.
“I have fought and sparred many pressure fighters so it is just another fight to me. I judge everyone on who they are and what they have done. I know that by being the British champion as well as Ashley Theophane, I have to prepare for the best possible Steve Williams. This is the biggest fight he will ever have in his boxing career and he will give his all in front of his home crowd.”
He added: “Lenny Daws, Jason Cook, Ben Murphy and Steve Williams are all the same opponent just a different name. The fight will end the same way my other British title fights have ended. It is boring. I know what he is going to do but they have no idea of what I will do as I have shown I can do anything. I'm a special fighter and a great British champion. When I'm long gone and retired I will be appreciated in the UK as I am in America.”
Theophane’s clash with Williams, 12-1 (5), is one of the stand out bouts on what could prove to be the card of the year. David Price’s British heavyweight title fight against Sam Sexton may top the Frank Maloney promoted bill, but there are a grand total of five title fights backing it up. To the neutral observer, Williams’ attempt to rip the British crown from Theophane in front of his own supporters has all the necessary ingredients to steal the show. If “Treasure” is proved to be correct, those observers are going to be sorely disappointed.
He said: “You just have to look at his [Williams’] record and my record to see that he is living in fantasy land. When he was losing to Lenny Daws, I was beating the world welterweight number three and former world title challenger Delvin Rodriguez. When he beat Michael Grant for the English title, I was fighting current WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia. Steve's win over Karl Place was not an upset. Karl had beaten nobody and was untested. It was a fight Steve should have won and he did. Our common opponent says it all about this fight. Lenny Daws played with Steve Williams and I played with Lenny Daws. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the outcome of this fight.”
It is the Place victory which earned Williams his second shot at domestic glory. In what was seen as a “pick ‘em” fight, the 28 year old simply walked through his highly rated rival in the second round. His natural pressure game was complimented by impressive punch placement and ruthless finishing. Theophane feels that the style which got Williams his chance will also prove to be his undoing and that any hopes the Scouser may have of him coming undone in the partisan atmosphere are also wishful thinking.
“I've won two international titles in Germany, fought in Saint Lucia and fought former and current world champions in America” he stressed. “I've never been outclassed. I'm mentally strong. I have no pressure on my shoulders, I just have to do what I always do. Steve will be nervous. He knows I'm the better fighter and that he can't match me in no department. I'm looking forward to his basic tactics of trying to walk me down. He can defend my punches with his face. During my British title reign there will be no upsets. The announcer only needs to recite 'and still British champion, Ashley Theophane’".
Since taking the title with a points decision over Lenny Daws, Theophane has recorded late stoppages over Jason Cook (TKO 10) and Ben Murphy (TKO 11). In a recent interview with Boxingscene.com Williams stated his intention to set a pace which Theophane will simply be unable to match. While Williams is undoubtedly capable of pushing on throughout all twelve rounds, he will have to produce a lung bursting effort to outlast Theophane, who's fitness regime is renowned throughout the sport.
“I took the one day off after the Ben Murphy fight and was back working out on the Monday,” he revealed. “After beating British champion Lenny Daws, former European champion Jason Cook and Southern Area champion Ben Murphy, I was running an eleven mile run on the Monday afterwards. I enjoy doing what I do so it is easy for me. I've had an eight week camp in America splitting my time between Gleason's gym in New York and Mayweather's Gym in Las Vegas. My last seven weeks training will be done in London.
“I'm a championship fighter and championship fighters perform in the later rounds. I'm one of the best conditioned athletes in the world.”
Theophane’s career has been unusual in that he enjoyed success at world level before returning to domestic level. He defeated DeMarcus Corley as far back as July 2008 and beat Delvin Rodriguez up at welterweight in July 2010. He is hoping that his promoters Hatton Promotions can elevate him back into world class sooner rather than later.
“I've campaigned on world level before, fighting the likes of WBC world champion Danny Garcia, WBC world number 15 DeMarcus Corley and WBA world number 4 Delvin Rodriguez” he said. “I'm knocking Steve Williams out on May 19th and going back up to world level. Hatton Promotions have got Matthew Hatton and Martin Murray big fights in the past. I expect them to deliver for me otherwise I wouldn't have signed a promotional deal with them.”
It hasn’t escaped Theophane’s attention that Corley is next in line for Paul McCloskey. The Irishman is constantly mentioned regarding possible world title fights and whilst he doesn’t begrudge McCloskey the attention he is receiving, reading between the lines it is easy to see that Theophane feels that he has been forced to fight for everything in his career. Drawing strength from those feelings seems to be one of his strengths and with the end to a personal crusade in sight, he is determined not to falter and see his big hopes for the future fade.
“I'm under appreciated in Britain. Eddie Hearn is doing his job as Paul's promoter. That is what he is supposed to do. I beat Corley when he was still a threat. He had just fought WBC world number one Devon Alexander and fought former WBO world champion Randall Bailey just after me. Most British hype jobs fail to live up to the hype. I'm glad I've never had no hype. I just keep achieving against all odds.”
He added: “I was IBF 147lb world number four when I decided to fight British champion Lenny Daws. I beat Lenny and set myself the task of winning the Lonsdale belt outright. I have nearly finished my mission. I will be going back to the international scene afterwards. I train in the States so my name rings bells whatever gym I train in. Don't be shocked if you see me on a Mayweather or Golden Boy promotion in the near future.”