Sounds like Adrien Broner won’t have to chase down Ashley Theophane once they enter the ring Friday at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C. That’s because Theophane has vowed to bring the fight to him.
“I have to set the pace,” said Theophane, a London-born Las Vegas resident. “I can’t go in there and outbox him, because he’s got tremendous speed. So I have to be able to go out there and outwork him and make it a war.”
Adrien Broner (31-2, 23 KOs) was to make the first defense of his 140-pound world title against Ashley Theophane (39-6-1, 11 KOs) in Friday’s main event (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET/PT), but he was stripped of his championship Thursday after failing to make weight.
While Theophane came in at the division limit of 140, Broner hit the scale at 140.4 and never returned in an attempt to make weight. If Broner wins Friday, the title will remain vacant, but Theophane can claim the championship with a victory.
“I want Ashley Theophane to come and fight me,” Broner said. “I know that Theophane has got a lot to prove, so he’s gonna come to fight.”
Broner won the title—his fourth in as many weight classes—in October with a 12th-round TKO of Russian tough guy Khabib Allakhverdiev, who entered the fight with a 19-1 record. The victory for Broner was significant not only because it made him a four-time world champ, but because he showed he was able to rebound from a lackluster performance in his loss to Shawn Porter in June.
“Everybody has bad nights,” Broner says. “The Porter fight was just one of my bad nights.”
As if Broner needed added incentive to take down Theophane, there’s the fact that the 35-year-old Englishman is promoted and supported by retired legend Floyd Mayweather Jr.—the same Mayweather who once served as Broner’s mentor. If Mayweather’s allegiance to Theophane bothers Broner, he refuses to acknowledge it.
“To be honest, I don’t care that Floyd is the promoter of the fighter that I’m fighting, because at the end of the day, I’m not fighting Floyd, I’m fighting Ashley Theophane,” says the 26-year-old Cincinnati native. “I hope [Mayweather] tries to teach him anything he can teach him to try to beat me, because if he didn’t, that would be dumb on his part, and that’s his investment.
“Big Bro is gone. This is going to be the new era of boxing. I’m going to be ready [for Theophane], and I’m going to put on a hell of a performance."
“ To be honest, I don’t care that Floyd is the promoter of the fighter that I’m fighting, because at the end of the day, I’m not fighting Floyd, I’m fighting Ashley Theophane. ” Adrien Broner
For Broner, fighting in Washington D.C., is like a homecoming. For the last few years he has been training in the nation’s capital at the Headbangers Gym of Barry Hunter, trainer of former 140-pound champion Lamont Peterson and his brother, 135-pound contender Anthony Peterson.
“It’s not an ordinary boxing gym,” says Broner, who is trained by Mike Stafford. “Every gym doesn’t have structure. In this gym, there’s definitely structure and there’s order. I wouldn’t say it’s like the military, but it’s very disciplined.
“Everybody knows what we’ve got to do, and it’s basically hard work. … The team we have down here brings the best out of me.”
If Broner is indeed at his best, that could prove to be big trouble for Theophane, who has never competed for a world title. To date, Theophane's biggest wins were decisions over former champion DeMarcus Corley in July 2008 and title challenger Delvin Rodriguez in July 2010. He also lost a split decision to current 147-pound champ Danny Garcia in February 2010.
However, since falling by split decision to Pablo Cesar Cano in September 2013, Theophane has won six straight, including a unanimous decision over Steve Upsher Chambers in his most recent bout in September.
Now, with Mayweather in his corner, Theophane is confident his career is headed in a direction it never could before.
“I didn’t have a promoter for 10 years, and when you don’t have a promoter backing you in close fights, you’re often gonna lose,” he says. “The fact that the promoter who is backing me is Floyd Mayweather, that says a lot about my determination.
“I’ve been in the ring with a lot of good fighters and held my own, and with the Danny Garcia fight, a lot of people thought I won. I’m trying to be better than I was against Danny Garcia. I’m trying to produce the best performance [of my career].”
Much of Theophane’s confidence for Broner stems from the fact that the British contender spent the bulk of his career fighting above the 140-pound division. In fact, Theophane weighed as high as 155 pounds for a unanimous decision over Ronnie Warrior Jr. in August 2012.
“I’ve been in with bigger guys and harder punchers than Broner,” says Theophane, who will be competing at 140 for the eighth time. “I’m trying to make it the fight of my life.
“When Adrien Broner sees that I’m still in there in Round 5, he’s going to start to get worried.”
For full coverage of Broner vs Theophane, visit our fight page.