LAS VEGAS — Although many may claim to know what makes boxing’s No.1 attraction Floyd Mayweather tick, in reality only a select few see what really goes on behind the doors of the Las Vegas gym which bears his name.
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One of those is Ashley Theophane, the only British member of The Money Team, who swapped West London for Nevada back in 2013 and is now closing in on a world title shot of his own under the Mayweather Promotions banner.
Theophane, a light-welterweight, is also part of Saturday’s High Stakes card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where his mentor faces Andre Berto in his 49th fight. The Londoner could not have asked for better preparation as he spent time sparring Mayweather, who operates in the weight class above, in the gym’s main ring.
Nicknamed the Doghouse, and famous for hosting intense sparring sessions, Theophane made such an impression inside that ring, Mayweather bought him a brand-new Chrysler 300 – with the number plate TMT ASH for good measure.
So Theophane has enjoyed a unique perspective of the pound-for-pound king, from both inside and outside the ring, as he prepared for the final fight of his career.
Recalling the sparring, the Englishman said: “It was fun because when Floyd’s in the ring he’s talking to you, saying: ‘you’re not this,’ and ‘you’re not that’. It’s always fun and I always enjoy it.
“Some boxers get nervous and he just beats them up but with Floyd he’s always complimentary and I got a car out of it. He bought me car, a Chrysler 300, which I was very happy about. He was very happy about my performance. He knew I needed a car and he’s generous so he bought me a brand new car. It’s very nice.
“I was the first man who sparred with him after Pacquiao. They called me on the Sunday to come down to the gym, we sparred for four or five rounds and ever since then he has been in great shape.
“I hit Floyd, it was good work. A lot of the guys were very shocked that I did well and Floyd afterwards thanked me for giving him good work.”
Although Mayweather insists he will hang up his gloves no matter what the outcome on Saturday night, there is intense speculation that we will see him back in action next year, especially considering he will move level with Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record with victory over Berto.
So what does Theophane think, having worked so closely alongside the undefeated star over the past two years?
“He has always said he doesn’t care about the record,” Theophane said. “A few years ago when he was 44-0 I asked him if he would go for the record and he said ‘I’m not looking that far ahead’.
“He takes one fight at a time. Maybe when he retires he might get bored and come back for one more fight, we don’t know. If I was him I would go to beat the record. But you don’t know. It would be good if he did, to finish on the round number. The big 50.
“He is going on as if it’s his last fight but I personally believe he should have one more to get 50 wins, that would be great. Right now he’s saying it will be his last fight but I think he’ll be missed. We don’t know who is the next star of boxing so I hope he does fight one more time and I hope I’m on the show again as well.”
The question of who will fill the void left by Mayweather should he call it a day is a difficult one to answer. The champion himself is trying his best to find the next star himself with a raft of promising fighters signed up to the Money Team.
Theophane said: “He’s signing up a lot of young boxers, he’s looking to take Mayweather Promotions forward and promote more. It could be his last fight because during this camp alone he’s signed up five boxers, all very young. It’s like he’s looking forward to the future and becoming more of a promoter.”
Mayweather calls himself TBE – The Best Ever – and whether or not you agree with that claim, there is no denying his place in the pantheon of greats.
Made Men! The Money Team Badou Jack Ashley ‘Treasure’ Theophane Floyd Mayweather Lanell Bellows Ronald Gavril pic.twitter.com/O185wyEs7G
— Ishe Oluwa Smith (@IsheSugarShay) September 6, 2015
But, although his ability is universally respected, he is not universally liked. Many love to hate the brash, flashy persona he has created which does, at times, lead to his detractors downplaying his achievements in the ring.
Theophane said: “He says he doesn’t read any of it, the media or criticism but it must be hard on him.
“He fought [Miguel] Cotto, [Manny] Pacquiao and the best of his era. I think some fans don’t like him and some love him but you can never please everyone. As long as he keeps winning fights then that’s all he can do.
“I’ve noticed over the past two years that he’s changed his image. Guys that know him know he’s a nice guy. More of his real personality is coming out now.
“To me it will be sad to see him go, he gets a lot of criticism but he has beaten the best of his era. It is a shame he doesn’t get his just dues.
“For now, Andre Berto is just a formality. He will get his 49th win and it is up to him if he will retire or not.”