“Connor Benn wants the fight, I want the fight; if the fight doesn’t go down then it’s because Eddie Hearn doesn’t want it to.”
Those are the words of veteran boxer, Ashley ‘Treasure’ Theophane after he was recently called out by, and offered a fight with, undefeated Essex star, Conor Benn.
The flip side of that is, with a global pandemic, and the short notice of the offer, Theophane partakes in his fight camps stateside having spent a number of years under the Mayweather Promotions banner.
It’s not the first time a Hearn fighter has been offered to the Londoner, three times
Sunderland’s Josh Kelly has been put on the table, another not to come to fruition for a fighter that has been on something of a global tour since his last UK fight – in 2012 against Darren Hamilton on Merseyside, an unsuccessful third defence of the British super lightweight title.
Having debuted back in 2003, stopping Lee Bedell in four at the famous York Hall, it’s been something of a global career for one who lost to Adrien Broner for the WBA World title four years ago – it’s all experience though, and experience to which he’s grateful for.
“When I lost the British (to Hamilton) I couldn’t get any fights here,” explained Theophane.
“I really thought that my career was done with; however, I’d been in New York for eight weeks and during that time I spent a couple of weeks over at Floyd’s (Mayweather) gym as well.
“Then, a year later, I went back over and he actually remembered who I was. He’d paid interest in me then, after he defeated Guerrero (Mayweather claimed a UD12 decision over Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand in May 2013 for the WBC World welterweight title) he announced in his post-fight interview that I was his guy.
“Ultimately, Mayweather saved not only my career, but my life.
“Going abroad saved me and yet I still couldn’t get fights back home and I’ve fought at the MGM myself three times, fought for the world title, and spent five years with Mayweather Promotions.”
It’s now more than eight years since Theophane last fought on home soil and he knows, deep down inside, that there’s only a handful of opportunities left for him to have one more dance in front of his friends and family.
Not that he’s wrapping up just yet, but he is looking at premises for his own gym, and planning for a future on the other side of the ropes.
There had been prior thoughts of dancing with that of Ricky Burns, or Terry Flanagan; they would have interested Theophane, “I’ve even sparred with Burns, I guess they just didn’t want me.
“It would be nice to have one more fight here, in England, win or lose.”
Now though, it’s all about the young guns, Theophane, at 39-years-old, walking round with a target on his back and, with Benn and Kelly both viable options for a Theophane swansong, he’s well aware of what they would bring to the table – it’s down to Hearn.
Benn is an undefeated, 16-0 (11) fighter and holder of the WBA Continental welterweight strap that he claimed back in 2018 whilst Kelly, also undefeated, boasts a 10-0-1 (6) record and holds the WBA International welterweight strap – both intriguing options for the former world title challenger and ex-British champion.
Theophane does however see Benn and Kelly as being on a collision to oppose each other in the not too distant future, but respects the approach made recently from the former.
“Hearn messaged me asking if I was in the gym and whether I’d want to fight in July,” explained Theophane.
“I said I couldn’t do that but would after Lockdown finished off; then Benn sends me a voice-note, he wasn’t disrespectful at all, and asked whether I’d be interested as well.
“This sport is about the young boys going for the old man and I said to him right there and then that, because I was a big fan of his father, I’d face him after this ends as my camps are done in America.
“This would be one of my last fights back home so I’d have to have time to prepare properly for it; if I have that then I’m up for it, it’ll be fun, cool, because I know my career is in its final stretch now.
“Maybe a few more fights, and one last big one, but I will be going out there to win.
“(Conor) Benn and (Josh) Kelly are on a collision though.
“Kelly was a top amateur, has all the skills, but doesn’t hit hard whilst Benn is learning on the job and can go on and achieve a lot in this game; I’d like to see him do that but right now, picking one of them, I’d have to go with Benn.
“He’d learn so much being in the ring with me and that’s why he mentioned my name, and I respect him for that and the way in which he’s conducted himself.
“I’ve done everything I want to do though and don’t have to fight as my focus is on the new gym but I think it would be nice to fight Benn – I’m not going to lie down though, I’ll go in there and give it my all, then go an open my gym.”