Theophane on life inside Floyd Mayweather's The Money Team

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Ashley Theophane has been sparring with Floyd Mayweather.

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.

– Mayweather vs Berto: Where the fight will be won
– Also: Mayweather Senior – I’ll persuade Floyd to go 50-0
– VIDEO: Mayweather – I’m going out 49-0 because I never overlook anyone
– From Pacquiao to De La Hoya: Floyd Mayweather’s top 10 fights

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.

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.”

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Floyd Mayweather vs Andre Berto: Where the fight will be won

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Andre Berto will look to use his superior power against Floyd Mayweather.

LAS VEGAS — Take a walk up and down the Las Vegas strip this week and you will do well to find anybody who is predicting a defeat for Floyd Mayweather. The pound-for-pound No.1 has been accused of taking an easy fight, for what he says will be his last, and he is widely expected to take care of Andre Berto with ease. So where will the fight be won – and does Berto have a chance?

– Also: Mayweather Senior – I'll persuade Floyd to go 50-0

– VIDEO: Mayweather – I'm going out 49-0 because I never overlook anyone

– From Pacquiao to De La Hoya: Floyd Mayweather's top 10 fights
– INSIDE STORY: The cold truth of the ultimate hard knock life

FOOTWORK
After the first Marcos Maidana fight, Mayweather was accused of 'slowing down' and it was suggested that his usually quicksilver feet were giving up on him, which allowed his Argentine opponent to land notably more punches than expected. But his natural speed was evident again in the rematch and certainly against Manny Pacquiao. Andre Berto, meanwhile, is not noted for his foot speed but he has been working with pilates specialist Katie Ybarra during camp and the increased flexibility in his ankles and feet will quicken him up. But Berto will have to be faster than ever if he hopes to get his hands on Mayweather.


MOVEMENT
It has been predicted that Berto's compact, almost tight, upright stance will play into Mayweather's hands. Although the undefeated 36-year-old does not exploit angles like he used to do, his punches will still arrow in from all directions so it will be down to Berto to loosen up his upper body more than ever. Again, the Pilates should help with that but his previous shoulder injuries might prevent him from displaying enough lateral movement to evade what's coming. On the other hand, expect Mayweather to be as slick as ever from the hips.

POWER
Arguably the only department in which Berto, who calls himself The Beast, trumps Mayweather is one-punch power. Many of Mayweather's stoppages throughout his career have come via technical decision, with his opponent's corner pulling their guy out to stop a sustained beating, rather than being put away with a single shot. Berto, in contrast can really punch and he has, predictability, promised to win by knock-out. Of course it is one thing being able to punch hard and another thing being able to punch Floyd Mayweather hard. And, although he might not pack dynamite like some others, the champion's impeccably timed trademark counter right-hand can do serious damage.


SCRAP
Berto's trainer, Virgil Hunter, stole the show at the final press conference this week with a memorable monologue during which he told the gathered crowd to expect fireworks. He suggested that, deep down, both guys remain genuine street kids at heart so putting them in the ring together can only produce a good, old-fashioned tear-up. Such an outcome will play into Berto's hands and close the gap between the pair. A master-boxer like Mayweather is best when boxing while the Beast might just have a chance if he can turn it into a street fight.

CHAOS
But perhaps Berto's best chance of victory is if something truly mad happens. Think the 'fan man' who flew into the ropes during Bowe-Holyfield in 1993, or perhaps a plague of locusts. In reality the two boxers are streets apart and Berto may need some sort of divine intervention. Maybe Mayweather will break an ankle or the MGM Grand's roof might fall in. You never know, Mayweather might forget his gumshield and be forced to forfeit the fight handing Berto the belts via walkover. In reality, it's more likely than him winning on points.

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Floyd Mayweather Senior: I’ll persuade Floyd to go 50-0

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Floyd Mayweather Senior.

LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Senior is ready to talk his son out of retirement once he takes care of business against Andre Berto.

Mayweather junior, the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, insists he will call it a day after Saturday's clash with Berto at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

– VIDEO: Mayweather – I'm going out 49-0 because I never overlook anyone

– INSIDE STORY: The cold truth of the ultimate hard knock life
– From Pacquiao to De La Hoya: Floyd Mayweather's top 10 fights

Victory will move him level with Rocky Marciano's long-standing unbeaten record of 49-0 but Mayweather is adamant he has no interest in eclipsing that total with a 50th fight.

But his father and trainer will attempt to change his mind and entice him into breaking Marciano's record in the first half of next year.

Mayweather Senior said: “It will definitely be up to him whether he makes the decision or not. But if he does not do whatever he decides to do within a six-month period, leave it alone. It's done.

“It's too long at his age. If he looks good on Saturday against Berto I'll say 'let's do it one more time – let's have one last one.' That's what I'm going to tell him.

“Right now we still have a fight on Saturday so I'm still here right now. We don't know what's going to happen on Saturday – we will have to wait and see because he might say 'hey, I'm going to do it again, one more time'.”

Mayweather senior also backed his iconic son to bring up 49-0 in explosive fashion.

He added: “If Floyd plans on the knock-out then he might get it because this dude is glass-jawed, I can tell you that. I'm not sure if Floyd will touch his jaw very well but I know he'll touch him enough to stagger him.

“If a guy is going to take chances and he's got no defence, he's done.”

Mayweather senior also had time to take aim at Amir Khan, who was once again overlooked by the WBA and WBC welterweight champion as an opponent.

Mayweather Junior says Khan talked himself out of the fight after repeatedly calling him out and his dad says they simply did not want to give the Bolton ace a 'pay day'.

Senior said: “He isn't getting the fight because I told his daddy – I said 'you're a chump'. And Amir Khan is nothing close to Floyd and he's not going to get a penny if I've got something to do with that.

“And I've got everything to do with it.

“He's mad because he isn't getting any big pay days – that's why.”

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