David Allen

David Allen is a strange specimen of a boxer.  That’s as much from self-confession as it is observation.  The 24 year old heavyweight from Doncaster, undefeated in ten fights, is in one moment self-depreciating and the next is convinced of his own potential.  It makes him endearing to talk to, but in the world of access to fighters through social media where PR is king, there are some that don’t seem to ‘get’ him.

“Half of the people on social media seem to like me and the other half seem to have a genuine dislike for me” he says.  “I would like to think I'm an intelligent and articulate young man, but at the same time I'd like to think people who have met me in person would argue my case of being a nice man too.  Nice men in boxing don't seem to get far though!”

The old adage may be true in some cases, but that is perhaps backed up by other factors (social as well as physical).  Allen is a nice man, a twenty minute phone call with him where he shows off his wit and intelligence as well as being very accommodating with his time is evidence of this.  His strong Yorkshire accent makes his dry sense of humour all the more amusing.  But he backs this up with a spiteful side as six KO victories in nine wins displays.  What makes that record all the more impressive is when you consider that Allen has only had a total of twenty fights as he tells me.

“I had ten amateur fights, one full season.  I won the national boys club title and went straight into the senior ABAs after eight fights.  I won the Yorkshire ABAs and boxed Simon Barclay who was a two time ABA champion.  I lost by two points on the scoring system, 19-17.  I got offered a position on the GB boxing team then half way through the assessments I got offered a good deal.  I cut my amateur career short which looking back on now I wish I didn't.  But I turned pro at 20 years old so it was a short but successful amateur career.”

There is however a sense of regret from Allen as he talks about his days before he became professional.  “I wish I got more experience” he reflects.  “My first five pro fights I boxed foreign opposition and knocked them over, I didn't really learn anything from it.  When I did have a hard fight, the draw on my record, it was against a guy who beat (Kubrat) Pulev and (Denis) Boystov as an amateur which we didn't know at the time.  I spent 80% of my professional career fighting out of shape and haven't learned what I should have from it.  I'm starting to grow up a little bit now, mature as a man mentally and physically so I'm seeing these things now.”

With only ten fights on his professional CV, does it seem to Allen that he is having to learn on the job?  “Yeah, the Jason Gavern fight in March showed that.  Physically I'm there and can compete with the best in the world but I'm still getting experience.  That's why I want the big fights, the tough fights because I want to learn from them.  I'm done with journeymen now.”

Being done with journeymen at only 24 years old and having 10 fights on your record may be seen as a bold statement.  It is, no doubt.  Journeymen are renowned for taking prospects through the rounds and teaching them experience, the tricks of the trade.  But Allen isn’t excited by the prospect of such fights (indeed, check out his Twitter account for further view on this!).  “Foreign journeymen don't come to fight and there are some tough British journeymen about but they don't get me excited.  I'm a peculiar man, I need something to challenge me and be scared.  I need something to get me out of bed at six in the morning and go for a run otherwise I won't do it.  It's no disrespect to anyone but I need a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
“I know fighting journeymen is meant to give you experience, but what is the experience? I see loads of fighters doing it and it's an ego thing, they want to get in there and knock someone out in a round. I don't want to knock someone out in a round, I want a fight and to see where I can get to. I know I'm young and I need more experience and that might help me in the big fights down the line, people might think I'm mad but I want those big fights now.  I want someone to hit me and hurt me and bring the best out of me.”

That desire for big fights has seen Allen take to Twitter in search of domestic heavyweights.  He has been vociferously calling out David Price and Dillian Whyte, two fights high in profile amongst the sea of contenders.  Price has previously held the British title while Whyte is the fighter to have most pushed current world champion Anthony Joshua.  Given the level they have both operated at, it is an indication that Allen is a man not afraid to take risks or protect the undefeated record. 

“I'm aware that if I'm successful of getting a David Price or a Dillian Whyte that they're a big favourite in that fight and rightly so.  Price has been and done it at British level and maybe a little bit beyond, same with Whyte having his Joshua fight.  They've got better wins on their records than I have and I'd be a fool to say they haven't.  But what is a loss?  A loss is nothing, I'd learn from a loss.  I'd learn more from being in the ring with them than I would beating ten journeymen.  My mentality is a loss wouldn't hold me back.  When Barclay beat me as an amateur that was the best thing that happened to me.  The draw I got as a professional against the Bulgarian, that was the best thing that happened to me.  You learn.”

“I see the draw as my best fight.  When I fought Olubamiwo he was semi shot.  Gavern was a good win on paper but he turned up and was dreadful.  There's some semi decent wins, but if I didn't do what I did on social media there'd be no interest.  There's hundreds of fighters in Britain with a similar record to me but they don't have my profile because they don't put themselves out there.  People can think what they want but I'm trying to further my life and my boxing career and if that's the way I have to do it then that's what I'll do.”

With Allen calling out the names of others, he has recently found that his own name has been in the firing line.  He was recently challenged by returning heavyweight Nourredine Meddoun and only in the last few days had to fend off the advances of a slightly left-field potential opponent; cruiserweight Wadi Camacho.  “I'm not looking for Wadi Camacho, that's one thing I'm not looking for!! What's his problem? I looked at my Twitter and thought it was a dream. I like Wadi Camacho, I'm a fan. If I get really desperate I might take that fight but I doubt it” laughs Allen, seemingly only half in jest.  So what level does he see himself fighting at presently?  “Even Area level I'd take but in my area there's only Richard Towers. I've had pull outs on the week of the fight with him and that does my head in. You don't know if you're on the show or off it, they're firing names at you.”

One thing he is resolute over is that he won’t have his name put forward for one of the increasingly popular ‘Challenge’ belts.  In fact he is nothing but scathing of the concept.  “The Challenge belts, they're a joke. You can fight a foreigner with fifty losses for a belt. My mates are from Doncaster, they're not the wealthiest people. I'm not going to get them to pay fifty pounds to watch me smash some fat fella when I could buy a belt for twenty quid and put it above my head anyway. I'm not going to make my mates pay to watch it.  I don't want to face journeymen, I don't understand why I would get my friends to pay forty pounds for that when I can take them to the gym and let them watch me spar for nothing. The business model is crazy. I'm at a stage of my life now where I've got a bit of an attitude problem and need filling in by somebody, I need a fight that will bring me back down to earth a little bit.”

It is a refreshing honesty from Allen.  Many fighters build up record of 20, 25 wins against unknown foreigners and are seemingly unwilling to put their records at risk.  Each time they fight they are reliant on their fans, friends and family forking out for the privilege of watching.  As Allen says, if they are wishing to view him in competition then they would be better served watching what happens behind closed doors in the gym.  In fact, he is convinced that it is one of those sessions in the gym which is a deterrent to landing the fight with David Price. 

“I know why Price doesn't want the fight, he doesn't want it because (Price's trainer) Dave Coldwell was there when I sparred Tony Bellew and Richard Towers. Dave has seen what I can do in the gym, and what I can do in the gym I've only taken into the ring maybe twice in both my amateur and professional career. If they were basing it on what I did in the Jason Gavern fight, David Price would put me to sleep in one round, I'm aware of that. Dillian Whyte saw me in Austria when we were working with Klitschko and I was 21 stones so I don't think that's an excuse for him” says Allen.
Reece Macmillan
He recalls to me a story of working with former world heavyweight champion Klitschko while they were in training camp and how his involvement was cut short.  “Klitschko asked me what the best part of the camp was and I said 'the food'. It was unbelievable, they cooked the food in front of me! I couldn't believe it. I'm from Doncaster where they've only just discovered fire! Klitschko patted me on the head and sent me home!” he laughs while looking back at the experience.

As he tells me, there was a time when he was at 21 stones while in camp with the former champion.  It is reflective of what has been his approach at times, by his own admission “unprofessional”.  In his last outing, back in March with American Gavern, the opponent was only named at late notice as the original man in the opposite corner (Richard Towers) pulled out of the fight during the week of the build-up.  The fight was a farce.  Gavern was known to have an injury and was flown at late notice from America.  He seemed more intent on trying to rugby tackle Allen to the ground, spent minutes of rounds complaining to the referee about Allen and generally bring the sport into disrepute.   As Allen reflects, he himself hadn’t been at his most professional that night.

“I wanted the Towers fight because I've known him since I was a kid and there was a bit of fear in me.  A lot of people say 'you should be up for any fight' but to be honest before the Gavern fight I was in the casino until three in the morning.  I rolled to the hotel at three in the morning in another world.  It's unprofessional but I've seen Jason Gavern fight, I knew he was out of shape, I knew he was carrying an injury.  I like to keep it real.  A lot of boxers give excuses.  It is what it is.  The man wasn't coming to fight anyway, you put it on him and he quits.  I knew what I was dealing with and the situation.  I got in there and after a round I thought 'the man is experienced and knows what he's doing, he can look after himself' so I just walked him down until he quit.  I feel like I played it safety first, I knew I could get him out of there doing that and he would quit eventually.  It was a chance to impress that I missed and looking back I know that.”

That fight was on the undercard of Kell Brook defending his world title against Kevin Bizier and was the second fight in succession that Allen had appeared on a Matchroom Promotions card, signalling a potential linkup with the UKs biggest boxing promoters.  So is there any formal agreement with the two parties?  “I'm not a Matchroom fighter.  I'm with Steffy Bull now.  The whole Matchroom thing, Steffy has Gavin McDonnell with them too.  When Matchroom have a show at Sheffield Arena they want local fighters.  I've been on two of their shows now.  After the last one my dad rang me and said 'son, your last two fights you were shit'.  I told him he was right!  My dad's a proper straight talking man.  He boxed for England, beat Bomber Graham, he was a top fighter in his day.  He says I can be champion of the world if I do what I do in the gym every day.  I know for a fact he means that because of the times he rings me and says 'son you were shit, you embarrassed me!' - I know that's real.  I could be with Matchroom now but my last two performances haven't been good enough, the Gavern fight was embarrassing.”

Allen is hopeful that he will get another chance to impress, next time against a higher level of opposition.  The Board are due to sit over the next couple of weeks to start deciding upon challengers for the English and British titles, Allen will be hopeful that his name is in the mix when the announcements are made.  He is reluctant to consider options other than getting into the title frame but concedes that there may be a point where he has to.  “I'm been boxing full time. If a big fight doesn't come soon I'll have to go back for another Gavern style fight to keep ticking over but I'm one of those men who lives their life on a day-to-day basis, I don't think about tomorrow and I'll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes.”

In the meantime Allen is hard at work in the gym and taking the opportunity to raise his name within the sport while finding the time to interact with the fans, both positive and negative.  Although he is one of the more honest sportsmen on social platforms, he also tells me that he has to apply some level of caution to what he says publicly.  “It's building a profile, but at the same time I'm a massive boxing fan too.  If I wasn't a professional boxer myself I'd be on Twitter doing the same stuff!  I'd be giving more abuse out!  I speak my mind now, but imagine if I wasn't a professional boxer being mindful of what I can or cannot say, I'd be terrible!”

It is hard to describe how engaging Allen is.  He is dry humoured, doesn’t take himself too seriously yet is very serious about how good he could be.  He is maturing still both mentally and physically.  He may not be there yet but the building blocks are being put in place.  The weight may fluctuate while the focus isn’t right.  The focus may be lost when the opponent isn’t right.  But underlying all of this is a talent that was recognised by Wladimir Klitschko as worthy enough to help train for a big fight.  There is a man that his most honest critic, his father, recognises as having a world of potential.  The circumstances need to be right to unlock it and when they are, we will see the best of David Allen.

David is currently looking for new sponsors to help support his career and can be contacted on Twitter:  @davidthewhiter1