David Allen: Charge of the ‘White Rhino'
It is to British boxing’s credit that the Lonsdale Belt is still viewed as a prized position by many fighters. To some, it is the pinnacle of their careers; to others, an important trophy on the way up to world level. The British heavyweight title holds its own specific lore, held by crossover stars such as Brian London, Henry Cooper, Lennox Lewis, and Tyson Fury. Its current holder Anthony Joshua looks certain to do the same, with an IBF world title fight to come on 9 April. Behind Joshua is an ever-increasing pack of would-be challengers for that prized belt.
The number one contender is to be decided in a South Yorkshire derby on the Kell Brook-Kevin Bizier card at Sheffield Arena on Saturday when Doncaster’s ‘White Rhino’ David Allen (8-0-1, 5 KOs) meets Sheffield’s Richard ‘The Inferno’ Towers (15-1, 12 KOs).
“It’s a big week. I’ve had a few fights now and been on some big bills. But this is the first big fight I’ve had,” the affable Allen told Boxing Monthly. “It’s a big name opponent, he’s local, we’re friends, we have a lot of mutual friends. The nerves haven’t kicked in yet. But I am not really a nervous kind of person. But you know, press conference Thursday, weigh-in Friday, it’s all part of the fun of it. It is a big fight, Sheffield arena will be full, lots of support.”
That friendship won’t detract from an eagerly anticipated meeting this Saturday, however.
“It’s a weird one. We got back a long way. He’s been a big help to me in boxing, so it is strange,” said Allen. “But that all goes out of the window on Saturday night. I’ve been very respectful towards him and he’s been respectful towards me. But it is a sport and we want to further ourselves and better ourselves. The best way we can do that is through boxing. On Saturday, I’m going to get in the ring and they’ll be no friendship there. But before and afterwards, it’ll be very respectful and hopefully it’ll keep that way.
““We’ve sparred a lot of rounds. There isn’t going to be any secrets between the two of us, what’s going to happen. Richard’s going to try use that size, he can box very well and move very well for a big man. He’s powerful. I just don’t think psychically he can compete with me in a strength sense. I do rate him; he’s a very good fighter, this I why it’s an eliminator for the British title. I just think I have a few extra levels. I am the younger man and I improve every day. I think the fresher man will prevail.”
Allen has been in Finland prior to this fight, sparring the experienced and undefeated Robert Helenius (22-0, 13 KOs).
“It was great. I really rate [Helenius] very highly; behind Tyson Fury I would say he’s the best heavyweight in the world right now. I think that highly of him,” Allen told BM. “Leading up to this fight, he’s got the same dimensions as Richard, very tall, very big. Similar style. Couldn’t have worked out at a better time. Finland wasn’t great, but the sparring has worked out perfectly for this fight. There’s no excuses, no complaints, no nothing.”
Stefy Bull, the former lightweight, is building a solid stable of contenders as a trainer and manager and Allen is quick to praise his work.
“He’s my manager and trainer. We go back a long way as well. He’s a friend of my Dad's, he knew me before I knew him, since I was a baby at the time. We’ve got a great relationship,” said Allen. “Winning this fight will really catapult me into big time boxing and, hopefully, I’ll be able to fight on Sky [TV] more regularly.
“The dream is to win the British title and it’s all about Saturday night, I can’t look past that. Stefy’s done a great job getting me this opportunity. People are saying it’s come too soon but I’ve trained really hard, I don’t think it has come too soon. I’ve put the effort in, the training in and I’m good enough.”
Allen is relaxed and confident and focused on Saturday. But the domestic scene at the moment is such that a win could catapult him into some huge fights, as well as deliver a career ambition.
“Win this fight and I’ve got the chance to win the British heavyweight title. That’s what I got involved with boxing for,” Allen told BM. “Knowing this fight is the only thing standing in the way of that, and thinking I might get to fight Anthony Joshua or Dereck Chisora or David Price for the British heavyweight title, is kind of what dreams are made of. I am really looking forward to this fight and the chance to fight for that tittle, that’s what it’s all about. I am not seeing it as anything else, it’s all about the opportunity to fight for that title.
“The country has the best of heavyweights around. There are a lot great fights to be made,” he continued. “A win on Saturday night puts me in the shop window for those fights. It’s one step forward but it’s a huge step. If you’re British heavyweight champion right now, you're putting yourself in line for some big fights because there’s so many good heavyweights.”
Limited tickets are still available (the fight will be broadcast on Sky Sports this Saturday). The fight should be a huge one and not just because of the 6’3 frame of Allen and 6’8 of Towers. It could announce a new player on the already packed British heavyweight scene.