In a new series, published every weekday on Boxing Social, the incomparable Terry Dooley delivers his unique look at the boxing news.
All boxers dream of becoming a world champion, but most do not get that far and have to recalibrate their expectations. It can be a tough thing to do, especially in a sport in which it is easy to pick up hangers on who are only too happy to inflate your sense of self-worth by telling you that you can go all the way.
Some fighters, therefore, must lower the bar and set realistic expectations, once you have done this you can start to think about the next step. For a few years, Dave Allen’s (18-5-2, 15 KOs) cult persona among some sections of the boxing community led to an inflated sense of what people thought he could achieve. A few of his fans predicted that he would reach an improbable level and win fights that were far beyond him.
A third-round KO win over Lucas Browne in 2019 led some to believe that Allen was on the right track, but Browne was never particularly good anyway and lost in one to Paul Gallen a few fights later. Allen lost his following fight when retiring in 10 against David Price, and had failed to get past Lenroy Thomas and Tony Yoka prior to this.
Price went on to lose to Dereck Chisora, who in turn lost to Dillian Whyte as it became clear to even his most diehard fans just where Allen was in the greater scheme of things. Allen is due to make a comeback on a Dennis Hobson bill at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge Arena on August 27 and he has set himself some far more realistic targets after taking a break from social media.
The popular 29-year-old will not be pursuing any Inter-wotsit belts, which get you rounds and a rating but mean very little and look awful, and will instead aim for the British title, which is a realistic dream for him and would mean that he would get to hold aloft a title that actually means something to fighters and fans.
Although he has already taken some severe punishment, Allen has been cleared to fight and is good to go, and he believes he will ease past Italy’s Andrea Pesce (7-13-3, 2 KOs) to move on to more meaningful contests. “I’d love to fight for the British title — any world title aspirations went by the wayside with the David Price fight, but if the British title became available in 18 months or two years time, then great,” admitted Allen.
“But I’m not coming back for titles and, if I was coming back for money then I’d have gone straight on DAZN, got paid a fortune and got beat. It’s not about the money or titles. It’s about bringing through the next generation of boxers that I’m managing, and that’s about me boxing for the next three years.”
“I love boxing and really enjoy it; starting again at a lower level is better for me,” he added. “When I was boxing at a higher level I was really unfit and stumbled into some massive fights, just turned up and did my best. I’m doing this because I want to box, I love it, and the maturity I’ve found now you’ll see a better fighter.”
The situation in Afghanistan continues to impact on people from all walks of life, including the country’s boxers, some of whom fled in advance of the Taliban’s takeover. Bolton’s Amir Khan has stepped in to offer some refuge via his Amir Khan Boxing Academy in Islamabad, where fleeing fighters are being offered advice on getting refugee status in order to come to the UK, and he has been joined by Lee McAllister, the former Commonwealth light-welterweight titlist who is closely associated with the British and Ireland Boxing Authority (BIBA).
The BIBA’s Vice President Gianluca Di Caro has stated that Afghan fighters will be given help to relocate due to the organisation’s links with the Afghanistan Professional Boxing Commission and McAllister has told the BIBA that he is willing to open the doors of his gym to anyone who makes it over here.
McAllister’s Assassin Health and Fitness Village in Aberdeen will accommodate fleeing Afghan fighters and the former boxer hopes that his offer of help will be taken up. “The boxers are family as far as I am concerned and I can’t just sit here and watch what is unfolding in Afghanistan and do nothing,” he told the BIBA.
“At Assassin Health & Fitness Village we always go above and beyond to help as many people as we can locally as well internationally as and when we can. When it comes to hard times like this seeing the boxers and their families in such danger the only option is to reach out and offer to help them as best we can.”
“They haven’t asked to be put in this situation so the least we can do is try our best to help ease some of the pain and suffering by showing our support,” he continued. “Obviously, we can’t help everyone but due to BIBA being involved with their local professional boxing commission it’s a no brainer that we try and push to help those first. Just hope and pray that they make it over safe.”
Obviously, the BIBA could and would benefit if fighters made it over here and wanted to resume their careers, so there is that to consider, and the association with the ABPC would make it relatively easy for them to get a licence and get going as, let’s face it, gaining a licence with the BIBA isn’t as stringent a process as getting a BBBofC one. Still, McAllister’s gesture is a sign that there is still a sense of community in the wider boxing world.
Leicester’s Sheldon Purdy (5-1, 1 KO) had hoped to become a world titlist this year, but he has discovered that enticing someone to Leicester to put a title on the line is easier said than done. When speaking to Matt Bozeat for the Leicester Mercury, the 36-year-old admitted that he has offered up some of his own money to bring the big names over only to be left frustrated.
Purdy takes on Tanzania’s Adam Yahaya (21-6-2, 10 early) at the Morningside Arena on September 11 and the “Mini Tyson Fury” hopes that time is not running out on his world title dream.
“I’ve offered top contenders and champions career-best money and they still won’t come here to fight me,” he said. “I was willing to throw big money at it to realise my dream of becoming a world champion. But nobody wanted to know.
“I’ve had to take footage of all my fights off YouTube because I think once they see I’m six inches taller than every other light-flyweight and have a 70 inch reach they don’t want to fight me. I’m like a mini Tyson Fury. I’m a nightmare to fight. Even if they beat me it’s going to be a tough night’s work.”
“That’s why I took my fights off YouTube,” he revealed. “But this next one is on the Fightzone app, so everyone will be able to see it. Once they see how tall I am and that I have the reach of a welterweight, nobody will want to fight me and I might never get my world title shot.”
Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) meets Yordenis Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs) this weekend in a WBA Super World welterweight title fight and the 42-year-old has hinted that it could be his last contest. His trainer Freddie Roach, however, has said that if his man wins there could be a lot more to come and he also revealed that Edinburgh’s Josh Taylor is on the Filipino’s radar following Taylor’s rise to the top of the 140lbs division.
“That fight can happen, for sure,” said Roach when asked about the contest. “The thing about Manny, he is not just going to pick some guy with a high rating because the world loves him. He wants to fight real fighters. He will challenge the best.”
Liverpool’s Anthony Fowler (15-1, 12 early) faces a big step up in class when he meets city rival Liam Smith (29-3-1, 16 KOs) at the Echo Arena on October 9. Fowler has operated at a far lower level than Smith yet the 30-year-old believes that the fight has been timed to perfection and that he will light up a venue that he used to visit as an aspiring young amateur.
“I look back to when I was a young kid and I used to sit in the £40 seats watching the likes of Pricey [David Price] and [Tony] Bellew. I used to think ‘Wow, I’d love to fight here’, now it’s my turn to headline,” he told the Liverpool Echo.
“I’m more nervous for this fight than I am for the average fight, but that’s understandable,” he added. “It’s just business, it’s nothing personal on my part. Come fight night, all the talk means nothing. I see weaknesses in him, and it’s all about who’s got the best gameplan.”
Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) is clearly willing to take a risk or two. The Ukrainian meets Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) for the WBA Super World, IBF World, WBO World and IBO heavyweight titles at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25 and has shown how seriously he is taking this contest by bringing in Scotland-based, Congo-born Martin Bakole (16-1, 12 KOs) as a sparring partner.
Usyk has told Wally Downes of The Sun that he is building himself into the division and will be a far more formidable force than he was against Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora, with the rounds against Bakole no doubt a key ingredient to any improvements that he makes between now and the first bell.
“I feel more powerful since moving up from cruiserweight,” said the 34-year-old. “I put extra weight on my body when I train in the gym and I don’t feel as flexible or sharp as I should — but that is only because of the hard work.”
“He is a really big guy and he hits hard,” added Usyk when explaining why he thinks sparring Bakole will help him get ready for the Joshua challenge. “But I will train hard and be in my best shape because I love boxing very much. Me and my team will decide on the optimum weight for me to fight at. I will stay at that weight and it will be ideal for my movement because that is my main skill.”