By Jake Collins (@MelancholyFolly)
David Allen has positioned himself as a very popular figure in the British fight scene. His affable nature with fans and genuine good humour has garnered a pretty solid following from supporters. His active responding to serious and facetious remarks from other users has no doubt helped him secure a position in higher profile bouts. Unfortunately, thus far Allen has come up short in his 3 toughest bouts. Firstly against Dillian Whyte over 10 rounds in which Allen performed better in the later rounds. Secondly, he was ultimately stopped (the only time thus far in his career) by Luis Ortiz who challenges Deontay Wilder for his WBC belt soon. More recently however he suffered a SD loss to Lenroy Thomas who is a capable southpaw. It was a close fight, once which Allen looks to set right in the rematch on March the 3rd on the Kell Brook card.
Although it isn’t really mentioned much, Allen had quite a successful amateur career given its short span. “There aren’t many kids in 1 season who win 1 national title and 4 Yorkshire titles. I was number 6 in Britain in the space of 10 months. That’s how I became Joshua’s sparring partner”.
That’s less amateur fights than some very hyped up British prospects at the moment, although Allen has never really benefited from the ‘he’s still learning’ tag that some other young fighters have benefited from. Owing to that ranking, he only just missed out on being part of the GB development squad. Regrettably, the talent shown hasn’t yet translated into the pro ranks. I asked Allen if there was a reason that perhaps he had that extra drive and success as an amateur? “I lived at home as an amateur with my dad. 6 times a week I’d run 10 miles a day and there was no choice; there was no yes or no”.
All the same, when his lack of boxing experience in general is considered, going 10 rounds with Whyte and 7 with Ortiz isn’t a bad showing at all. “People used to say to me you’re one of the most talented kids I’ve seen. Watching me on the TV, you wouldn’t think that. I boxed Ortiz without training and went 7 rounds. I could go 10 rounds with Whyte on 2 weeks training. It always came easy to me and I just thought I don’t need to get out of bed to run today. I was getting away with it and that’s not good enough”. Still, even with a vivacious personality promoters will only tolerate so much when it comes to results. “Eddie’s sat me down and said look ‘we want to work with you and we know you can do well but people’s patience is wearing thin’ so we’ve got to do it now”. And it’s true, Allen needs to show what he is capable of doing and replicate his amateur success if he is to keep himself as a fixture on televised Matchroom cards.
With the penny really dropping for Allen with regards to his training, he’s much more confident of beating Thomas and doesn’t see complacency getting in the way. Assuming he beats Thomas, he wants to challenge Sam Sexton for the British which is a fight Hearn has already tried to make “We tried for Sexton for the March fight. I know for a fact his manager thinks I’m no good, so (for the money offered) why would you not take that fight? But whatever comes next, obviously I’m hoping for Sam Sexton. Otherwise I’m more than happy to fight Dubois after Thomas, a million percent; I’ve never boxed someone who is willing to come and have a go but I think he would do that”. That would be an excellent test for Dubois who has absolutely cruised through his opponents so far. With Allen’s toughness and willingness to engage it would certainly ask some new question of the young Heavyweight prospect. It must be said – and not to discredit Allen’s ability – that as a pro he is primarily known for his durability and chin, which must be a little deflating? “I’m just that tough kid from fucking Doncaster at the minute and it irritates my dad massively. I’ve only got myself to blame and Thomas is the first step to putting that right”.
Across his pro fights and his sparring, Allen has come across some of the best Heavyweights from a technical point of view. Ortiz being the best encountered in a sanctioned fight, however his time sparring the mercurial Tyson Fury was a real eye-opener. “Technically, I’ve not been in with anyone as good as Ortiz. Tyson Fury is just a freak really though, to be that big and to move like he can…I’ve never known anything like it. It all comes natural; I can’t put it into words how good he is on top of his game. He’s in a class of his own in terms of size and movement. In terms of boxing ability, Ortiz was absolutely brilliant when I fought him. He’s just so effortless; his timing was unbelievable”. All the same, Allen thinks Wilder might have taken the Ortiz fight at the right time. “It wouldn’t surprise me if Ortiz caught him with a left uppercut on the way in when Wilder is swinging wildly but I just think Wilder may be too fit and fresh”.
So what of the current heavyweight division? Outside of the belt holders the talent pool isn’t particularly large. Allen agrees. “If you can prove you’re top of the domestic tree at this point of time, you’re nearing world contention as world level Heavyweight boxing is pretty sparse at the top”. And Allen is right. You have to say Joshua is probably the top dog right now but how good are Parker and Wilder really? Povetkin hasn’t looked as good since the previous drugs case although he certainly has the most ‘stacked’ CV. Ortiz could prove to be the best of the bunch but beyond that it’s very slim pickings. “When I see the likes of Lucas Browne at world level, I think yeah it’s very possible that I can get there. He is just a grown man version of me. I’m 25 years old which as a Heavyweight is very young. If in 5-6 years time I’m not as good as Lucas Browne then I’ll be very disappointed”. Allen’s age and overall experience is something that’s forgotten when analysing his fights. We have to be earnest in saying he hasn’t made any real waves across the division but he is still learning. Plus he’s operated above area level, something some fighters aren’t at yet but are being pushed harder in a marketing sense than a whole host of British talent. “I lose a SD for the Commonwealth in my 16th pro fight after 10 amateur fights and I’m shit. In-ring experience is key and I don’t have much of that. I beat the (former) French Heavyweight champion in my 8th pro fight”. It can be easy to forget that relativity exists within boxing. So many of our opinions and ideas are bred from punditry which irrevocably states what is and what isn’t a crowning achievement when in reality these things are in fact relative. I’d like to thank David for taking the time to speak to me and wish him all the best going forward.by