Big opportunity for Theophane

Welterweight Ashley Theophane looks to make a big impression on Sept. 14 against Pablo Cesar Cano. Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Floyd Mayweather Jr. liked what he saw in British welterweight Ashley Theophane, and that meant a lot -- enough to land him a coveted slot on the undercard of the year’s biggest fight, Mayweather’s junior middleweight unification match with Canelo Alvarez.

The world will be paying attention to the main event Sept. 14 (Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand, not to mention the A+ co-feature -- junior welterweight titlist Danny Garcia against Lucas Matthysse -- giving Theophane a big opportunity to also make an impression before a worldwide audience against Mexico’s experienced Pablo Cesar Cano (26-3-1, 20 KOs) in the pay-per-view opener.

Only a week after signing with Mayweather Promotions this summer, Theophane was rewarded with the fight. How the former British junior welterweight champion wound up so tight with Mayweather was the product of hard work in his gym.

“Ashley’s a gentleman that I’m very familiar with,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “I’ve been watching him work for the last couple months.”

Ellerbe said he was also familiar with Theophane from his hard-fought 2010 split decision loss to Garcia.

“It was a fight that I personally thought that he got the bad end of the stick,” Ellerbe said. “And he’s a gentleman that has tremendous character. I think that he’s had a tough road, with going in other fighters’ backyards and getting it done the hard way. So now with us, with him being part of Mayweather Promotions, I think that we’re going to go out and create these opportunities, and he just has to go out and win. And I think that he will be a guy that the world will get a chance to see on Sept. 14. He’ll put on a tremendous fight, and he’s going to make a lot of noise.”

Theophane (33-5-1, 10 KOs), 33, has won some and lost some against better opponents (and never been stopped). He lost to Garcia and Ali Oubaali. He has defeated junior welterweight titlist DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley and former two-time title challenger Delvin Rodriguez.

The road to this opportunity began when Theophane met Mayweather last year during his training camp for Miguel Cotto. Theophane, training in New York, decided to go to Las Vegas for two weeks and was allowed to work at Mayweather’s gym.

“Leonard and Floyd were very nice to me. The sparring there, it was great,” Theophane said. “When I left back [to New York], I wished Floyd well in his fight with Miguel Cotto, and then the next time came the Robert Guerrero fight [that Mayweather had in May], and I said I’ll go out to Vegas again. Went out to Vegas for four weeks for this time. I was sparring with great guys, and I just liked the vibe at the gym.”

Theophane said that it was such a good experience that he stayed for Mayweather’s whole camp and that Mayweather and Ellerbe were impressed by his work ethic.

“I think Leonard and Floyd just heard about the work that I was putting in the gym, and then I got to spar with Floyd and it was just step-by-step, bit-by-bit, just keep working, the way I’ve done my whole career,” Theophane said. “Floyd and Leonard listened to what others were saying, that I was a good boxer and they got my record, and then the rest is history. I signed up with Mayweather Promotions to take it to the next level.”

Theophane is pumped to be part of such a big show in his first fight with Mayweather Promotions.

“It’s the biggest boxing event in the world. It’s going to be one of the biggest ever and it’s a big achievement on that,” he said. “Leonard and Floyd have put me on the card and I’m looking forward to it. And for me, obviously, I’ve got Pablo Cano. He’s fought Erik Morales. He’s fought Paulie Malignaggi. He’s fought Johan Perez, Shane Mosley. He is a very tough operator, and I’m going to be in great shape. I’m training with the best in the world. I’ve got a great training team, and we’re going to be ready for ‘The One’ and it’s an honor to be on the show.”

Ultimately, Theophane hopes connecting with Mayweather will lead him to an elusive world title.

“I still feel good. I haven’t been in many hard fights because I’m a smart boxer and I have a good defense,” Theophane said. “The age, it doesn’t play a role. I eat well. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. You don’t see me out in the clubs, so the age is not an issue.”