By Chris Ridgway @RidgTweet
In Madison Square Garden last weekend, the boxing world witnessed what the mainstream media referred to as ‘one of the biggest upsets in sporting history’. A relatively little known Mexican named Andy Ruiz Jr, stepped in as a replacement opponent to claim the belts of one of the sports poster boys.
For a huge number of watching fans this outcome was impossible, yet Ruiz is a name who has learned the hard way boxing is a tough sport and has put the hours in and earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath as those who dominate the division’s headlines. Heavyweight boxing, summed up in one fight, was proven to be a frantic free for all where those who commit can legitimately hang with the stars of the squared circle. One fighter looking to emulate the man from Mexico is Dave Allen.
After only a handful of amateur fights, Doncaster based Allen made the decision to turn professional. Nicknamed ‘The White Rhino’, his bullish, powerful style combined with a physical and mental toughness he possessed meant he had the tools necessary for an assault on the division.
His charismatic persona charmed fans, an honest and outspoken approach endeared box office audiences, but that will always count for little if you don’t deliver in-ring entertainment. After being on the brink of leaving the sport only a year ago following a controversial loss to Tony Yoka, Allen is now delivering in and out of the ring, and is targeting titles of his own.
In July, David Allen will take on David Price in London. The Liverpudlian himself was once touted as the next great hope, and although it hasn’t panned out that way, Price is still seen as a dangerous obstacle. Very much aware of the potential rewards of fights of this stature, Dave Allen says he’s preparing well for the occasion.
There’s no reason I can’t be in the top 10 in the world
“Preparation is good, I’m already weighing less than I did for the Lucas Browne fight” says Allen, with the fight six weeks away. “I stayed in training after the Browne fight so I’m flying now. The Yoka fight was nearly a year ago. Now I’m the home fighter against former world champions. The way it’s turned round is great, I’m coming into these big fights and I should be winning them”.
Taking his career more seriously has fired up the White Rhino, who now his sights on a top 10. With experience against six of the current top 10 (both in sparring and competitively), Allen has the experience and now wants to move up.
“If I beat Price, I expect to fight one of the top ten, someone between six and 10. One or two of the names have already been spoken about if I beat Price, I’m literally two fights off a world heavyweight title shot, which would be incredible. I feel like I will beat Price. I’m not looking past him, but if I beat him and keep improving like I have in the last two camps, there’s no reason I can’t be in the top 10 in the world. That’s how I’m thinking now, I keep improving and I’m excited”.
In years gone by, Dave Allen has trained for some of his biggest fights, notably feared, then-unbeaten Cuban Luis Ortiz, in a shed in his back garden. Part of the success drive of the last year has been to improve professionalism around the camp as well as in the ring.
“It’s totally different now. I’m with Darren Barker in London now, very much different to all those years ago. We’re at it full time, more professional now with food, running, training, behaving like a top class professional athlete now, all bases are covered and I think that’s where the difference is.”
“It’s not so much a belief in my chin, but more in my belief of myself. I’m a very good defensive fighter. If you’re going to knock me out, you’ve got to hit me on the chin first, and then it has to be pretty hard to knock me out. I respect David Price’s power and I think he’s a very good fighter but he’s got to punch me on the chin to knock me out and I just don’t see him doing that. He isn’t going to hit me on the chin. I’ve been hit on the chin once in 22 professional fights, and I’ve fought some world class men so I think I can box better than David Price, I’m faster, sharper than him and have fought more powerful guys than him. I know it only takes one knock on the chin though, so I’ll have to be on the ball.”
In the aftermath to Anthony Joshua’s defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr, Allen alluded on Twitter that fighters need to be more active than once every nine months. When asked how key consistently fighting was, the point was made clear, David Allen wants to be out regularly.
“Being active is important for many different things. You perform better when you’re busy, you’re on the ball, fitter, sharper, more used to the occasion. If you have a lot of time out, it’s like you’re starting from scratch again. I think being active is the most important ingredient to being a good fighter. There’s a lot of good fighters out there who fight only once or twice a year. You can’t perform to as well if you’re doing that. After this fight I’ll have only fought twice this year, and at the end of July that’s nowhere near enough. I’d like to be out there five or six times a year. Problem is with this day and age, a defeat is the be all and end all and it’s hard when you’re having 12 round fights, I don’t want to be fighting forever, a couple more years to make some money I’d absolutely love to be out every six or seven weeks, and I know I’d be better for it.”
If he beats me I’ll know I’m not good enough
With such high pressure on fighters to avoid loss, balancing a career can be a tight rope and is likely the reason for big names fighting less frequently than those on the rise. Understanding of the nature of the sport Allen goes on to say he realizes what a loss can do to a record.
“The Lucas Browne fight, Nick Webb, Lenroy Thomas, David Price fight, I’ve been in so many ‘must win’ fights. David Price is a must win. If I had lost to Lucas Browne, there probably wouldn’t have been a lot for me. It’s the same situation here, I must beat him. If I want to be in the top ten and challenge for world titles, I have to beat David Price. If I lose the fight I’ll just become an opponent again and it will all come crashing down again. I’ve built it up so many times before, but this time I think I’ve cracked it. If I beat Price we’ll see what happens, but now, it’s a must win. I can’t have that where you build yourself up and it crashes down again. If he beats me I’ll know I’m not good enough and I’ll go back to the drawing board again, I’ll shake his hand and wish him well in his career, but I’m not a nervous character.”
Making no bones about the course he sees himself following, it was a straight answer when asked who Allen would be targeting should he get past David Price next out.
“I’m looking at Alexander Povetkin, I’m on at Eddie Hearn to try and get that fight. I’m not looking past Price, but you’ve got to have a plan in place, and I think I’m good enough to beat Povetkin, so that’s the fight we’re looking at next.”
On the scene as a whole, a new face Allen could well have to contend with in coming bouts is Ukranian Oleksandr Usyk.
“On his day, Usyk is capable of beating anyone in that top ten” claimed Allen, though there was slight reserve. “He has a bigger fram than people think and can move well, and I think on a given day he could beat any of them. That said, on a given day any of those could turn out to be to big for him, so it will be one to watch, he’s a great addition.”
The name on everyone’s lips at the moment is Andy Ruiz, the Joshua conqueror. When asked on his view of the fight in New York, Allen admitted he fancied Anthony Joshua to take the win, but wasn’t completely shocked by the Mexican.
“It wasn’t a massive surprise, I thought he’d give Joshua trouble, but not in the manner that he did. Joshua didn’t look himself, but it’s that shot in the third round at the top of his head. He never recovered from it. It’s typical of the sport now though, it can change at any time. For Ruiz now, he can go for the rematch, make some money and if he gets beat he can retire with 20-30 million in the bank. I’m really happy for him. He’s not exactly come from nothing, but he’s changed his and his family’s life, I’m delighted for him, and hopefully I can do the same.”
My dream would be to fight Anthony Joshua for a world title
The other ‘super fight’ in the division as it stands is the semi-confirmed Wilder Fury rematch, and it’s one Allen is looking forward to.
“I think Tyson won the first fight, not widely but by a round or two with the drop downs but he won comprehensively. I think he’ll win again, but you see what Wilder has done against Breazeale and you can’t write anyone with that power off”.
To end on his own ambitions, Allen rounded off with a bold prediction ahead of his David Price bout.
“I want to be world champion. That’s where I want to be and that’s where I’m aiming for. That’s a star I’m aiming for, but I could land on a cloud of a top ten and a British title where I’m comfortable. I think about it, why not, why couldn’t I do it? The more I train, compete why not? Get that big fight anything can happen, Andy Ruiz did it. My dream would be to fight Anthony Joshua for a world title. We’ve sparred together, I respect him and I’d love that fight. I’d love to fight Povetkin on his undercard for the rematch, we both get the win and say ‘let’s go’.
I’m comfortable in those arenas, getting more experience, and a rings a ring, a fights a fight. I’m really happy now, I’ve never felt better, and I think I’ll have David Price out within two rounds.”