For all the insults and compliments thrown in equal measure at this weekend’s ‘main event’, it doesn’t change the interest held by British boxing fans. Two heavyweights at juxtaposing stages of their careers will clash, and though the winner may still struggle to find a place amongst the division’s most enticing bouts, entertainment is key.
For Doncaster’s Dave Allen (16-4, 13 KO’s), facing Lucas Browne truly is the big break he’s been waiting for. He’s underperformed, thrown haymakers from the heels of his boots and united fans across varying social media platforms: but now it is time to be serious under the sizzling lights of the capital’s O2 Arena – he knows that.
Allen has been open about his battles with gambling addiction and depression, his love of fried chicken and the disappointment of failing to shoulder the pressure of his biggest nights. Having fought and surprisingly lost to Jamaican heavyweight Lenroy Thomas for the Commonwealth title, this could be the ‘White Rhino’s’ last chance at the top level.
Former bouncer and briefly-MMA fighter, Lucas ‘Big Daddy’ Browne (28-1, 24 KO’s) has been there, seen it and done it.
When travelling to Eastern Europe to face WBA world champion, Ruslan Chagaev, the Australian took his lumps throughout the fight, before rallying to stop the champion. Could that heart and refusal to crumble prove the difference come Saturday? The alarming stoppage Browne suffered at the hands of Dillian Whyte last summer was preceded by leaked whispers of a knockout suffered in his camp. Only weeks ago, Browne was fortunate to beat Kamil Sokolowski in Scotland, again touching the canvas. Whether the tattooed brawler should be fighting could be a far more pertinent question than whether he would emerge victorious.
When comparing the résumé of both fighters, it’s undeniable who has faced the tougher tests. It’s also undeniable that Dave Allen has lost those tougher tests, taking them on late notice, fighting for the wrong reasons. Travelling to Paris to battle Olympic gold medalist, Tony Yoka, resulted in a painful beating, whilst challenging elite Cuban, Luis Ortiz, saw his tongue split in half and requiring surgery. He’s a tough, tough bloke. That’s how they’re made in Donny.
I sat with Dave only two days before his magnificent stoppage of Nick Webb, again stepping in at late notice. He was a man on the edge of quitting the sport, searching for one decent payday, topping up the downpayment on his first home. As the sentimental ‘Fields of Gold’ stunned the crowd, he flicked the switch. That overhand right may always be his greatest punch ever thrown. Crucially timed – both in the ring and in his career.
Lucas Browne is now forty-years old. The imposing hard-man from Auburn, New South Wales has struggled to recapture past form. He was dragged into battling a doping charge, throwing his achievements into question, which he rightly disputed. He has suffered from a lack of exposure, spending some of his earlier years playing rugby and keeping the peace in the pubs and clubs of his native Australia.
Boxing wasn’t always in his blood, but his achievements since focusing solely on the sport have been quite remarkable. He punches like a freight train, without fear of the opponent or the location. This visit to The O2 will be his first since that stunning defeat to Brixton’s Whyte. The Aussie man slumped, face-first on the canvas, surely at the end of a decent career? Not quite.
When the pair touch gloves this weekend, you can expect heart and heavy leather. Browne has the edge in experience, whilst Allen has proved himself almost unstoppable. It’s difficult to imagine either man boxing on the back foot, isn’t it? More likely, they’ll stand and trade a metre apart, slowing down as the contest slips into the middle rounds. If you’re expecting the same athletic display often gifted to us by Oleksandr Usyk, you’re watching the wrong fight. The punches will slow and the toughness will show, as two men battle for pride and relevance. You’d expect Allen to take some punishment – but the power he carries in the right hand, still fresh at twenty-seven years old, could be his equaliser.
The man from ‘Down Under’ has notably slowed over the past two years and could surely only rely upon a win in the first half of the fight? I worry about the damage suffered by both men, though this is boxing.
When Lucas Browne travelled to dethrone Ruslan Chagaev three years ago, Dave Allen had just laboured to a fourth round win over Jason Gavern.
The people’s champion, viral sock-stuffing comedian Allen, is now all business. He’s built his army of social media followers, turned up at random student parties with Irn-Bru and continued to perform in character. For a large chunk of his career, he has done everything for other people. Now, it seems it is time to be selfish.
A win over Browne would propel him into the top-fifteen and surely result in fights with bigger names. His preparation with former IBF middleweight world champion, Darren Barker, had been going swimmingly. He looks trim, seems dedicated the sport and closing in on the most important night of his career.
As he stands, glistening in his robe on Saturday night, his entrance music shall start up, sending chills down the spine of the fans in attendance. One line from the emotional ‘Fields of Gold’ resonated when assessing the career of Dave Allen as he marches towards expectation – favourite of both the bookies and the fans.
“I never made promises lightly,
And there have been some that I’ve broken,
But I swear in the days still left, we’ll walk in Fields of Gold”
Article by: Craig Scott
Follow Craig on Twitter at: @craigscott209