By Chris Ridgway @RidgTweet
For the first time in a long time, the heavyweight scene is the division of interest in the sport of boxing. While the fluidity of the welterweights is sparking much discussion and the controversy at middleweight rumbles on, for the first time in almost two decades, there is excitement at the top. The trotted out catchphrase “anything can happen in heavyweight boxing” is actually now starting to bear fruit. The seemingly unbeatable have been halted and there is a genuine race for top spot.
Though only three or four names currently contest the crown, the strength in depth of the division is the real reason for it’s success. Fighters like Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker are now pay-per view while other exciting fighters aren’t finished on the basis of one loss, even names outside of the top ten or even beyond are becoming household.
A man riding much of that success is Dave Allen. Known as the White Rhino, his popularity on social media coupled with a desire in the ring has beckoned doubters to become fans, propelling him up the interest ladder. But this is boxing, and ultimately one of the cruellest games of them all, Allen has to keep winning if he is to ride this wave, and his next opponent is a man who possesses power, experience and form.
Not everything over the last few years has gone to plan for Liverpudlian David Price, but there was a time he was touted to take the division by storm, be the man to end the Klitschko reign, and that makes him dangerous.
The fight against Allen has potential impact on the landscape further up the division, and given the public profile of the fighters draws attention from hardcore and casuals alike. We all love a knockout, and this fight has the potential to deliver a big one.
Speaking ahead of the bout, ‘Pricey’ says camp is going well.
“Preparations going really well, been quite busy really. Had the fight in December then straight into camp for the fight in March, then again straight into another one, which has given me a bit of consistency with the training, certainly kept me busy in the gym, it’s been seamless really after a little short break. I was supposed to go and spar in America but that didn’t happen, but it kept me in the gym, so everything’s going well.
Dave Allen isn’t a world beater
Consistency for me personally is very important. The key for me was to gain momentum, a fighter with momentum is a dangerous fighter in a great position. Coming off the best win of his career and a couple of good wins behind him Dave Allen has good momentum. I’ve at least been active, won my last couple of fights, stayed active and keeping myself fighting fit and battle hardened. At Anthony Joshua’s level, despite the fight being a twelve round like mine, the scale of the fights are that big, the size of them with things like media and endorsements. It would be ideal if he could fight 3 or 4 times a year, but it’s finding top level opposition that the fans will buy into, it’s very hard.
I don’t need any extra motivation going into this fight than I’ve already got, it’s a massive fight, it’s the biggest of my career. The mistake fighters can make with me is that they can just walk through me, that isn’t the case, especially for someone like Dave Allen although he’s got momentum, but he isn’t a world beater, that’s for sure. I understand any fighter feeling confident going into a fight, but on the night it’s a different kettle of fish.”
The public personas of both fighters stems from the fact they’re both known as ‘nice guys’. Forget for a moment their equally brutal paths so far in the ring, outside of it they’re jovial characters, embracing the fun side of the sport, while refreshingly honest about finances, drug cheats and politics within the sport. The niceties however, go out the window when the bell sounds.
“You most definitely do [forget the nice guy in the ring], I don’t need any extra motivation to win, what’s on the other side of the ring is enough motivation for me, you just have to be professional about the job. You’re in there to win, think about it as a sport, you do whatever it takes to win. With Ruiz, he might have been a nice guy, and caught him off guard, might have done it on purpose and have it part of the plan with the mind games, but you’re in there to knock each other out so the nice guy thing goes out the window, just make sure you get your arm raised at the end of the fight.”
Speaking last week, Allen said he expects to “get Price out of there early”. Unsurprisingly, the Liverpudlian didn’t agree.
“No, I don’t think it will be a short fight. The only way that happens is if one of us get caught early. Dave Allen is known for his durability, but that’s been in fights he’s not expected to win, and he’s gone in with a defensive mentality. He took a few good licks of Luis Ortiz and Dillian Whyte, but he’s going into this fight the favourite, and he has got them momentum and he is expected to win, so on paper he’s got to come forward and attack and create openings, so if he is thinking he’s going to close the show early that’s going to create openings for me, so I can’t see it ending too early. I can’t see a lot of punches landing clean, early, on my part but it I land early then I’ll do damage.”
Price’s adversary Allen has also stated his intention to climb the division, aiming for top ten fighters, maybe even his own shot at world honours. Having been in those discussions once upon a time himself, Price understands the Doncaster man’s motivation.
“I can see why he’s saying that, and it’s realistic of him to say that. The way the division is, especially if a couple of the belts get broken up with the Joshua Ruiz situation – we don’t know what’s going to happen, but even with all that, I don’t really care about fighting for a world title, it would be great, but I just need to maximise my earning potential at this stage. I’ll be 36 by the time the fight comes around so it’s about securing some type of future for me and my family. If that means not fighting for a world title but financially a better route then that’s what I’ll do. There’s that many different names out there as the division is buzzing with top heavyweights, there are opportunities a plenty I’m not really setting out long term paths to title shots. If they come that will be a bonus, I’m just happy to be involved at the moment.”
Is there any names he’d like to go after next?
“The Tyson Fury fight is appealing, but we have to be realistic. That fight isn’t going to happen for me, unless I put myself in a position with three or four wins. If Chisora makes business sense, I’ve always got on well with Dereck, so if it made sense business wise the Chisora, he’d be a difficult fight for anyone. A lot of these fighters come out and say they’ll fight anyone anywhere, but at the end of the day boxing is a business and a lot of the time it’s not about who you fight, but who you don’t fight in order to line up the big one.”
American Deontay Wilder is a name Fury will go after early next year should he beat Cuban Luis Ortiz and Fury comes through unscathed against an as yet unnamed opponent, Fury looked scintillating against Tom Shwarz in Vegas in his last outing, and Price acknowledges the division is now wide open.
“It was always going to be the case [the division being wide open] once the Klitschko’s retired, they had it locked down, picked and choosed [sic] who, where and when they would fight, it was a bit of a closed shop. I thought it was always a matter of time when the next crop came through and they were gone that it would become more of a level playing field and it would make things more exciting. Now, everyone’s interested again, Americans and American TV is interested again which is massive, there’s loads more streaming services it’s huge now.
A lot of it is down to the Anthony Joshua phenomenon in this country, and the way it captured people’s imaginations. Selling 90,000 seats at Wembley and at Cardiff is unheard of in boxing and it may well never happen again. What Eddie Hearn has done with Anthony Joshua and what Joshua has done by doing the job has made people on the other side of the Atlantic focus. As far as the boxers are concerned, there’s a lot more quality in depth and because more of them are having success because of the exposure as a result of the success of boxing, it’s improving the fighters. There’s a lot more quality, evenly matched fights. Ten round fights, the likes of Charles Martin and Kownacki, two top heavyweights where the loser doesn’t have to retire, he’ll get another opportunity and the winner will go on to bigger things, it’s like the mid ninties and good for the sport in my opinion.”
Though climbing the divison and world title honours isn’t top of his priority list, there is still a couple of boxes to be ticked for David Price, namely a certain old foe, and a certain prestigious venue.
The world title fight is not the holy grail for me at this stage but I’d love to be able to fight at Anfield for a world title. That was the one place that was always mentioned, especially early on in my career when evertything was going really well, was a world title fight at Anfield, and if somehow we could arrange it to get a shot Tyson Fury, because of the history. Whereas we’re cool now, it would be great to cross paths as pros, that would be the dream scenario.”
Allez, Allez, Allez!
Away from boxing, David Price had reason to cheer this summer as his beloved Liverpool picked up Champions League honours. Acknowledging the ups and downs of sport, Price says it was a rollercoaster time.
“I was made up with the Champions League win. I don’t tweet much , but this time I wanted to. I know Liverpool are a hated club, so it makes it better when we go and do this. Winning the Champions League, everyone is still buzzing over it, including myself. It was difficult when we didn’t the league, I was dejected, but what happened when City beat Leicester the 24 hours that came after it was everything. The season was over, you were gutted, but then 24 hours later we’ve beaten Barcelona, it could only happen to Liverpool! The footy is massive in Liverpool, fans come together for Liverpool, and Tony Bellew, it was great to see us win the Champions League.”
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