Turning pro even before he graduated high school afforded Ashton Sylve a lot of options in his boxing career.
With cameras pointed at him since he started boxing at 8, the highly touted prospect was already conditioned to receiving attention. At 16, Sylve was an honor student, a football player, and he was preparing to make his pro debut, which caught the eye of several world champions, including Floyd Mayweather, Shawn Porter and Leo Santa Cruz.
Despite being flooded with offers to sign with various promoters, Sylve followed his father’s lead, taking some time before making any rash decisions with his career.
“We started off when I turned pro, and I had a bunch of offers just before I turned pro, as well,” Sylve told MMA Fighting. “My dad always told me to take my time, and he made sure that we took our time, because I was always anxious. Like, ‘This is cool, imagine going with them,’ or, ‘They’ve got a big name!’ We just took our time.
“I think that’s the preparation my dad groomed me for since I was younger. He always had me around the scene, and I always has a little bit of fame since I was young. I started boxing at eight years old, and with Floyd and [Manny] Pacquiao and all these big fighters recognizing me, my dad always made sure I stayed steady, [stayed] grounded.”
When he’s not in the gym training for his next fight, Sylve immerses himself in his studies, a college student seeking a business management degree. Getting an education means a lot, even as he’s still learning from the people around him.
Perhaps one of the biggest influences on him in recent years has been social media star turned boxer Jake Paul, who won the sweepstakes to sign Sylve to his Most Valuable Promotions (MVP). When Paul and business partner Nakisa Bidarian filling out a roster with young, hungry and talented fighters, Sylve checked every box.
MVP executives attended one of Sylve’s fights, and the youngster quickly received an offer. Now 20, he said he knew rather quickly it was the perfect time to sign with a promoter.
“Nakisa came to one of my fights in northern California, and then I think after that, Jake ended up calling my dad,” Sylve said. “Basically [he said], ‘We want Ashton to be part of the team, and we want to grow together.’ That was the taste of it, but I know for sure Nakisa came to one of my fights. I had a massive knockout, and it kind of took off like a rocket from there.”
Since signing with MVP, Sylve has gotten prime placement on several major cards, including the undercards of Paul’s main events against Anderson Silva and Nate Diaz. He’s also headlined a couple of MVP cards of his own, including his next fight against Estivan Falcao in Orlando on Feb. 2.
Paul routinely touts Sylve as a future champion and promotes him constantly on his various social media channels, where he maintains millions of followers across Twitter, Instagram and his YouTube channel.
Sylve obviously appreciates the push, but he said Paul gave him some valuable advice about social media clout after they first started working with one another.
“Jake always told me he can push me as much as he can, but at the end of the day, I still have to get in the ring and show off my skill set,” Sylve said. “That’s going to be my spotlight.
“Because people will become a fan of mine after [my fights]. Being able to have the platform of Jake [is great]. But at the end of the day, it’s my skill set and who I am, [that’s] who I gain my fan base from.”
On Friday, Sylve competes for the WBC youth world championship. It might just be the first of many belts he collects over the next few years. He currently sports a perfect 10-0 record with nine knockouts, and because he’s received so much attention at such a young age, there’s already been a push to get him into higher-profile fights right away.
Sylve appreciates that fans, fighters, and the media see his potential, but he’s not going to rush into any situation before he’s truly ready. He’s trusting in his father and Paul to guide his career, so when he’s ready for that next level of competition, they’ll let him know.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, and that’s why I’m glad I have a team behind me to make sure we take our time, we go slowly and not rush anything,” Sylve said. “My expectations are so high, and people believe in me. I believe in myself, as well, we believe I can be a champion right now. But it’s more so about the route, and the timing is everything. We make sure to take our time and that each opponent is progressing slowly, so we don’t get ahead of ourselves.
“I’m just like, ‘Give me [anybody], it doesn’t matter. Whoever you bring this way, I’ve got it.’ That’s why I leave it to them to pick which guys [I fight] and what they think is good for me and my career. That’s a team. That’s what I call teamwork.”